What is Wheat Intolerance or in this case Gluten Intolerance?
Wheat intolerance or rather Gluten intolerance – otherwise known as celiac disease also spelt as coeliac disease outside of north America – effects around one in a thousand people usually diagnosed between 30 and 45 but can affect babies and elderly people as well. Generally symptoms will include weight loss (to be expected if the problem is affecting the ability of the intestine to work work properly) vomiting and Diarrhea (spelt diarrhoea in the UK) a longer list of celiac disease symptoms is available here
Although Celiac disease and other wheat intolerance issues tend to run in families it is inherited through the genes rather than it being contagious in nature.
Coeliac disease can be easily diagnosed by a gastroenterologist (a specialist on issues in the stomach, kidneys, gall bladder, panaceas and intestine etc.) He or she will carry out a simple intestinal biopsy to remove a very small sample from the intestine tissue. This involves a flexible endoscope or TV camera being passed through the mouth into the stomach and upper intestine so that the lining can be inspected and a biopsy taken.
I personally have had three endoscope procedures to clear gallstones trapped in the common bile duct and insert plastic tubing “stents” to increase the size of the duct. Although it sounds horrible in reality it is done under sedation and is completely painless — twice I was not even aware of the procedure was still happening. (The third time I was under a full general aesthetic so I was completely unconscious the whole time. The surgeons wanted to do other work at the same time.)
The only realistic treatment available for people effected by Celiac disease or other wheat intolerance problems is a totally gluten-free diet.
What is wheat intolerance?
Although the reasons why people suffer from wheat intolerance are not entirely understood some experts believe it occurs when the person is unable to manufacture enough of the enzymes the body needs for the proper digestion of wheat.
However, Isabel Skypala, head of dietetics at London’s Royal Brompton Hospital, believes getting a proper diagnosis for wheat intolerance can be quite difficult.
“Some people find foods such as pasta and bread hard to digest. This is because pasta absorbs water, so it swells in the body and causes discomfort. Also it is fashionable to blame intolerance on wheat. People forget that other foods such as dairy which are spread on bread or sprinkled on pasta could be the offending culprit.” Isabel Skypala, Head of Dietetics at London’s Royal Brompton Hospital UK
Isabel went on to explain that one of the few ways of ensuring a proper diagnosis for wheat intolerance is by by a long term observation as a inpatient. This means the patient can be given wheat in different forms under very strict conditions (even whilst patient is blindfolded to they cannot know what they are eating). It is then necessary to wait for around three days or so whilst monitoring for any reactions by the body to confirm wheat intolerance or not. A food elimination program can then be started to look for other food allergies or food intolerances which may exist. Remember what we said earlier most people with a wheat intolerance problem will have a range of other food intolerance or food allergy issues as well.
Wheat intolerance and celiac disease
This page on wheat intolerance and Celiac disease is associated with our page setting out the three main wheat related problems with our health. That page is on the subject of wheat allergy and wheat intolerance and should be read in association with celiac disease page.