29 August 2008
You might not think that you are wheat or gluten intolerant, but do take the trouble to read this article for it is highly likely that you do know someone who might be suffering from the rather disturbing effects of gluten intolerance. This information could make a tremendous difference to their lives. Gluten is a protein-carbohydrate mixture that is contained in barley, rye, oats, wheat, spelt, kamut and triticale, and in varying degree in the various products that are derived from these grains – such as wheat germ oil, malt-based vinegar and barley malt extract. Gluten is also present in certain vitamins and nutritional formulas. It is sometimes found in hydrolysed vegetable protein, and may even have been used in the manufacture of the glue that is used on postage stamps and envelopes.
Some people have a sensitivity or allergy to gluten. Others again may be sensitive to wheat – and may or may not have an associated intolerance to gluten. In a recent study it was found that nearly four out of 1000 blood donors had laboratory evidence of an allergy to gluten in wheat.
Coeliac disease, (also spelt Celiac) may in part be generated by an inability to handle gluten grains. Other factors that might contribute to this disease include nutritional deficiencies, psychological factors, intestinal infections or parasites, protein deficiency, excessive use of laxatives, and certain factors of diet such as protein-fat ratios.
Common indicators of coeliac disease and/or gluten intolerance include schizophrenia, depression, a general loss of well-being, fatigue, breathlessness, weight loss, anaemia, infertility, excessive flatulence, numbness in the fingertips, bone pain, fatty stools that float and that might be large and foul smelling, skin rash, an extreme deficiency in vitamin B6, constipation, and a partial destruction of the small bowel – which results in diarrhoea, bloating of the abdomen, and shrinkage of the intestinal villi – this in turn results in Malabsorption of nutrients and a general state debility. Various reports tell us that coeliac sufferers are especially prone to develop deficiencies of iron, B vitamins, vitamin K, magnesium and folic acid.
In young children coeliac disease and/or gluten intolerance can show itself in the form of irritability, dry skin, bowel upsets, diarrhoea, abdominal bloating, colic and poor growth – usually the child will fail to thrive and to grow, will be thin, and have a big tummy and wasted buttocks. In most cases the child will be susceptible to infections of all kinds. These symptoms usually reverse themselves when gluten is eliminated from the diet and a balanced supplementation programme is used.
Wheat and/or gluten intolerance is often associated with severe stress, trauma, chronic fatigue syndrome and sometimes with mercury and/or other heavy metal toxicity. Mercury toxicity resulting from the amalgam used in dental fillings may be a factor worth investigating.
Physicians have also reported cases where many other health problems have improved when wheat and its by-products have been excluded from the diet. These include rheumatoid arthritis, tissue swelling, premenstrual syndrome, fatigue, thought disorders, severe mental disturbances, and joint and muscle aches and pains.
Irritable bowel syndrome is often caused by an intolerance to wheat and to wheat products. The common symptoms of this disorder include abdominal bloating, excessive flatulence, diarrhoea and/or constipation.
The best way to alleviate the symptoms associated with any form of gluten intolerance is the obvious way – avoid the gluten grains. At first this sounds like a tremendous inconvenience, and this certainly used to be the case. Today, however, excellent gluten-free flour substitutes are available that are not only as delicious and as versatile, but even more nutritious than the grains that this disorder forces one to avoid.
Nature’s Choice manufactures and distributes an excellent and rather unique range of gluten-free flours. Please click here to view the full range of Nature’s Choice Gluten-Free Products. If your nearest health store does not yet stock these products, they will be pleased to order them for you. You will also find a selection of gluten-free recipes at this link.