What Does It Mean To Have a Gluten Intolerance?

If your recent test results indicated that you have a reaction to gluten we’re sure you’ll have plenty of questions about how this will affect your day to day routine. Here at YorkTest we understand that discovering your food intolerances can be a surprise – but discovering you have food intolerance also means you’re one step closer to relief of uncomfortable symptoms. The important thing to know is that you’re not alone and there’s plenty of advice provided from our registered Nutritional Therapists – here are the answers to a few frequently asked questions:

What is gluten intolerance?

One of the first questions people ask is ‘what is gluten?’ Gluten is a protein composite consisting of the elements gliadin and glutenin which is found in several types of grains, including wheat, spelt, rye and barley and therefore most cereals and breads. Effectively, it is the elastic, rubbery protein in grains that binds the dough in bread and other baked goods and helps give a spongy consistency. An intolerance is an adverse reaction to gluten resulting in symptoms such as bloating and constipation, however, the problems are not life threatening.

Gluten intolerance or gluten sensitivity is one of the most common food intolerances and, in recent years, there has been an increasing awareness of the condition too.

What is the difference between Coeliac disease and gluten intolerance?

Whilst gluten intolerance as a condition is on the same spectrum as those suffering from Coeliac disease in that removal of gluten can relieve symptoms, that’s where the similarity ends. For Coeliac disease sufferers, gluten causes the bowel to become inflamed which leads to flattening of the lining of the small intestine, which interferes with the absorption of nutrients. The only effective treatment for Coeliac disease is a lifelong gluten-free diet whereas for non-Coeliac gluten intolerance sufferers there is evidence that, after a period of elimination, foods containing gluten can sometimes be slowly be re-introduced into the diet without ill effect.

What is the impact of being gluten intolerant?

First things first, you’ll need to cut gluten out of your diet and this may mean that some popular dishes and drinks may no longer be available to you – pasta and processed foods such as bread are usually the big offenders but also beer and ales will also have to take a backseat.
Surprisingly, not all food grains contain gluten; wild rice, corn, buckwheat, millet, amaranth, quinoa, soybeans and sunflower seeds do not and there is a huge selection of “gluten free-from” foods in most supermarkets.
Being thought a fussy eater in social situations can be another concern for gluten intolerance sufferers. Whilst there will definitely be an adjustment period you’ll be amazed at how quickly you’ll adapt to reaching for gluten-free rather than wheat based products.  In addition, given the awareness of the increasing prevalence of gluten intolerance, many restaurants now offer gluten-free products e.g. Carluccios offers gluten-free pasta to their customers so having a gluten intolerance doesn’t mean you have to say goodbye to all treats when eating out.

Is gluten intolerance that common?

A quick search for ‘gluten intolerance’ in a search engine will bring up loads of advice and bloggers detailing their experiences with living gluten-free so you won’t have to feel alone. You’ll find plenty more nutritional recipes here too.

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