What’s the Difference Between Celiac Disease and a Wheat Allergy?
I wrote an article over at TreeHugger a few weeks ago that discussed a new heritage or heirloom wheat that was being tested on celiac patients to see if it could be tolerated differently than modern wheat products. A fellow writer brought to my attention (and rightfully so), that I failed to separate celiac disease and a gluten allergy or intolerance. So I wanted to take a closer look.
As the gluten-free rage continues, it’s important to note that celiac disease is a devastating illness and wreaks havoc until it's diagnosed and understood.
Celiac disease is a permanent intolerance to the giadin fraction of wheat protein found in rye and barley. The disease leads to an autoimmune disorder where the body starts attacking its own normal tissue. The inner attack continues until gluten is removed from one’s diet.
In addition to autoimmunity, other surface symptoms may appear including diarrhea, iron-deficiency anemia, lactose intolerance, and osteoporosis. It’s an inherited illness that’s determined with both an intestinal biopsy and the patient’s response to a gluten-free diet.
A wheat allergy, on the hand, is one of the top eight food allergies in the U.S. Its symptoms include gassiness, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. But unlike celiac disease, which can cause intestinal damage, a wheat allergy is not an autoimmune disorder and it doesn’t cause any permanent damage.
In recent years gluten-free foods have garnered more popularity on the market for both celiac patients and those with a wheat allergy or gluten intolerance. Health nuts are giving it up for other reasons, contending it disrupts hormones and causes cravings and weight gain. This means giving up most bread, pasta, and cookies as well as soy sauce and certain condiments.
Are you a fan of the gluten-free rage?