I’ve been hearing a number of people refer to following a gluten free diet because they think they have coeliac disease… Obviously this crude diagnosis came from Dr google. Let me shed from light on the topic.
What is a food intolerance?
Food intolerance is vastly different to a food allergy or coeliac disease. Food intolerances are often diagnosed by a dietitian through a process of removing suspected problematic foods and systematically re- introducing them back into the diet. Blood tests for picking up a food intolerance is not considered a diagnostic tool when it comes to diagnosing a person with food intolerance. Hydrogen breath tests are more commonly now being used to diagnose fermentable sugar related intolerance’s. A hydrogen breath test may be able to diagnose an intolerance as part of a low FODMAP diet.
A food intolerance means a person has difficulty digesting certain characteristics of food like natural sugars or proteins. Symptoms such as: bloating, abdominal pain, loose stools and constipation can all associated with intolerance. It is not life threatening, although can be quite debilitating through pain and social embarrassment. Symptoms are individualised and can vary in intensity during different life cycles.
Food intolerances can range in sensitively levels from person to person. A single person with lactose intolerance may have no side effects with ½ cup of milk. Whereas another person with lactose intolerance maybe violently ill with the same amount.
It is also important to note that sensitivity thresholds may be reached by accumulating intake throughout the day. A person with gluten intolerance may eat a package product containing small amounts of gluten like a muesli bar for morning tea. They may use a dressing on salad at lunch, which also contained gluten. They may follow dinner with a small biscuit. The accumulation may cause problems that night or even the following day.
What is a food allergy?
In comparison food allergies may lead to anaphylactic shock, deficiencies, rashes and hives. Reactions can be life threatening and often painful. Food allergies cause an immune response in the body which causes the body to attack itself causing structural damage or inflammation.
Gluten intolerance is not celiac disease, they are two different conditions. Celiac disease is a genetic auto immune disease. A person with gluten intolerance will be able to consume very small amounts of gluten, they can follow a low gluten diet. However a person with Celiac disease must be completely gluten free diet. This includes residual gluten found on utensils, plates or machinery that contained gluten containing food. Please note if you have Celiac disease it is necessary to seek help from a dietitian to follow an appropriate gluten free diet. I urge to you resist a self diagnosis, if you have a problem seek help from a trained professional.