Celiac disease and gluten intolerance: everything you need to know
Updated: 3 hours ago
Are you experiencing stomach pain or bloating, diarrhoea, fatigue, anaemia, dermatitis, or frequent mood swings? Having a combination of these symptoms might mean that you are gluten intolerant. It’s important to note that people often use the term “gluten intolerance” to refer to two completely different conditions – celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity.
If you think you’re experiencing symptoms of celiac disease, you can quickly and easily test yourself for gluten intolerance at home with GLUTEN'ALARM.
What is celiac disease?
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease whereby consuming foods that contain gluten damages the small intestine. Gluten is composed of two plant proteins – gliadin and glutenin, which are naturally found in wheat and other cereals and grains. When you have celiac disease, your immune system mistakes gluten for a toxin and begins to produce antibodies that attack the lining of the small intestine. Also known as gluten-sensitive enteropathy, this condition is genetically determined.
Unlike celiac disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivity does not damage the small intestine and there are no serious consequences for the person’s health. However, the symptoms of both conditions can be very similar. That’s why it is important to test yourself for celiac disease first before jumping to conclusions.
What are the most common symptoms?
Symptoms of celiac disease can be grouped into two categories: gastrointestinal symptoms and symptoms that do not affect the digestive system.
Gastrointestinal symptoms may include:
Chronic or prolonged diarrhoea
Nausea or vomiting
Stomach cramps or bloating
Other symptoms that often occur with celiac disease are:
Anaemia and deficiency of iron, vitamins, or folic acid
Mood swings, hyperactivity, or apathy
Canker sores and cold sores
Muscle and joint pain
What are the consequences?
For people with celiac disease, gluten triggers the production of antibodies by their immune system. The most common type of antibody is tissue transglutaminase (t-TG) antibodies of the IgA type. Most diagnostic tests for celiac disease are designed to detect these antibodies.
When they attack and damage the villi (tiny hairlike projections that line the small intestine and absorb vitamins, minerals and other nutrients), it hinders the absorption of vital nutrients (this is termed malabsorption).
At the same time, when the lining of the small intestine is damaged, toxins and bacteria can pass into the bloodstream. Malabsorption and toxins in the blood can increase the risk of other diseases. In children, celiac disease can negatively affect growth and development.
There is currently no cure for celiac disease, and the only way to manage it is a strict gluten-free diet.
Which foods contain gluten?
In addition to being found naturally in cereals, gluten is commonly used as a binding agent in the food industry. Up to 90% of products readily available on the market may contain gluten. It is used in the production of concentrates and aromas.
The main products that contain gluten are:
Wheat, including spelt, barley, rye
Oats (when grown near other cereals)
Bread (unless labelled as gluten-free)
Dairy products that contain grains