Gluten & Its Friends: The Series – Part One

I decided it’s time to talk about gluten! There is so much information that I couldn’t possibly write it all in one blog. I wouldn’t be able to cover everything I wanted to say – gluten also has lots of ‘friends’ that together create a whole set of issues. So, the next few blog articles will be written as series about intolerances, sensitivities and autoimmune responses, in relation to gluten, wheat and ATI’s. I am also going to try and simplify the information as much as possible for the everyday person. This topic (and the last blog on dairy) are very close to my heart and I hope that I can bring clarity and understanding to others’ about how important it is to eat the right food for your body.

The vast majority believe that only those diagnosed with coeliac disease are at risk – unfortunately, this is not the case! There is also a large amount of people that go undiagnosed because their symptoms aren’t as ‘noticeable’. So, first let talk about the 4 different issues that can arise from gluten.

  1. Coeliac Disease is when your immune system attacks your small intestine in response to the consumption of gluten. Symptoms include: diarrhoea, constipation, abdominal pain, heartburn, bloating, fatigue, anaemia, joint pain and rashes. However, some don’t suffer from any of the more external symptoms and/or instead suffer with depression, anxiety, migraines, brain fog and tingling in the extremities.
  2. Non-Coeliac Gluten Sensitivity (NCGS) has only recently been accepted as a ‘real’ thing. The symptoms are similar to those of coeliac and can only be differentiated by medical testing.
  3. Dermatitis Herpetiformitis is an extremely itchy and persistent skin condition – an autoimmune response to eating gluten. Symptoms include: red skin, pimple like bumps, itching, burning and purple marks.
  4. Gluten Ataxia is when gluten causes the immune system to attack your cerebellum (part of the brain). Symptoms include: balance and coordination issues, deterioration of fine motor skills, speech slurring and difficulty swallowing. It’s quite rare, but the damage is progressive and can be lethal.

In addition to the above, a wheat allergy also exists and often gets confused as a gluten allergy. However, a wheat allergy can exist without the presence of gluten. Symptoms are more typical of an allergy and include: hives, swelling, nausea, vomiting, itchy red rashes and breathing difficulties.

Well, that’s the foundation for the rest of this series. I wouldn’t be able to go on to talk about the nitty gritty without explaining the basics first. The next blog will start to talk about how wheat, gluten and ATI’s affect the gut. Stay tuned and keep educating yourself!

Sarah Major