Why Do People Choose a Gluten Free Lifestyle?

What is Celiac Disease?

Celiac disease is sometimes known as sprue, Celiac sprue, non-tropical sprue, or gluten-sensitive enteropathy. It is an autoimmune disorder, which is where the body attacks itself because it is responding to what it considers an outside invader (gluten). Celiac disease is a form of gluten intolerance, but with Celiac disease, there is damage to the small intestine. Due to the antibodies attacking the gluten (and in addition, the small intestine), the villi (the small, wormlike projections in the small intestine that increase the surface area to absorb nutrients) are damaged, sometimes to the point of the intestinal wall becoming smooth.

What causes Celiac Disease?

The exact specific cause of Celiac Disease not known, yet. The only thing that is known for sure is that you have to have specific genes, have been ingesting gluten, and have had something trigger the disease. You have to have all three factors to develop Celiac Disease.
Genes:  If you are going to develop Celiac Disease, you must have certain genes: either HLA-DQ2 or HLA-DQ8. These are actually the names of molecules on cells that are used as the names of the genes. Celiac Disease cannot develop unless ones of these genes is present, but having one of these genes does not mean that developing Celiac Disease is inevitable. But if you do not have one of these genes, you won’t develop Celiac Disease.
Ingesting Gluten:  Eating gluten.
Trigger:  While the exact trigger is not yet known, there are several things that are common triggers. This includes pregnancy, physical injury/accident, emotional trauma, illness, or surgery.

What is gluten intolerance?

People who are gluten intolerant have intestinal systems that produce such a strong reaction to ingesting gluten that they cannot have any gluten at all. When these individuals ingest gluten, their systems produce antibodies to the gluten. They may have all or some of the same symptoms and complications as individuals with Celiac disease. In fact, Celiac disease is considered the most severe form of gluten intolerance, but the difference between someone with Celiac disease and someone who is just gluten intolerant is that the individual who is just gluten intolerant may not have any physical damage to their small intestines or the villi in their small intestines.

What is gluten sensitivity?

Gluten sensitive includes anyone having a negative reaction to gluten. Gluten sensitive individuals can have issues ranging from minor annoyances when ingesting gluten to all-out Celiac disease. People who are sensitive may have gastrointestinal issues or other annoying symptoms when digesting gluten but may not necessarily have a dramatic change when they eat or stop eating gluten. They may not have to stop eating gluten all together, but may feel better if they cut their consumption down. Or they may be gluten intolerant, have Celiac disease or Dermatitis Herpetiformis.

What is Dermatitis Herpetiformis?

Dermatitis Herpetiformis is a type of Celiac disease that results in an extremely itchy, severe skin rash. If you have dermatitis herpetiformis, you have Celiac disease but not necessarily the other way around. Due to individual scratching the itchy rash, blisters and lesions form. The rash can occur anywhere on the body but usually occurs on the knees, elbows, buttocks, back of the neck, and scalp. The rash happens when a person ingests gluten. Dermatitis herpetiformis is diagnosed by a biopsy of the skin next to (but not directly in) a lesion. Anesthesia is usually used. If Celiac disease is diagnosed, an intestinal biopsy is not needed. The individual may or may not have small intestinal damage, but only a small percentage have gastrointestinal symptoms.

What is a gluten allergy?

Some people mistake having Celiac disease or gluten intolerance for having a wheat/gluten allergy. While some people do have wheat allergies, there is a difference. Allergies are an immediate reaction to ingesting a food. Upon eating the trigger food, histamine is released causing various symptoms from swelling, asthma, and itching to respiratory distress and shock.
Celiac disease/gluten has a delayed type of immune reaction, even though some people can feel pretty quickly when they ingest gluten.


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