Understanding Wheat Allergy and Celiac Disease

  Gluten is a family of storage proteins, formally known as prolamins that are naturally found in certain cereal grains, such as wheat, barley, and rye. Glutenins and gliadins are the prolamins in wheat, secalins are in rye, and hordeins are in barley. Gluten offers a variety of functional culinary benefits and is responsible for the soft, chewy texture that is characteristic of many gluten-containing, grain-based foods. Gluten is a protein found mainly in wheat, barley, oats and rye. When heated, gluten proteins form an elastic network that can stretch and trap gas, allowing for optimal leavening or rising and maintenance of moisture in breads, pasta, and other similar products. Because of these unique physical properties, gluten is also frequently used as an additive to improve texture and promote moisture retention in a variety of processed foods. Gluten doesn’t get along with every digestive system. Some people have wheat intolerance syndrome. That’s one of three conditions that gluten can trigger:

Celiac disease: A disorder in which gluten causes your immune system to attack your small intestine; over time, the attacks can damage the lining of your intestine.

Wheat allergy: Your immune system fights gluten (gliadin and glutenins in wheat) like a virus or bacteria; if you eat it, you may have trouble breathing, a skin reaction, or problems digesting.

If you’re sensitive to gluten(Wheat Allergy) you may experience symptoms similar to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) such as brain fog, gas, diarrhea, and constipation as well as and skin conditions such as rashes when eating gluten-containing foods. Since food sensitivities often produce delayed reactions rather than sudden immune responses, signs of gluten sensitivity can take as long as 36 hours to show up. Unlike a food sensitivity, those with celiac disease will have a full-blown immune reaction when they come in contact with gluten. This can result in sudden cramping and diarrhea, several days of severe digestive symptoms, vomiting, fatigue, irritability and over time, extreme weight loss

Anyone with a wheat allergy should avoid products that contain wheat (gliadin and glutenins). For those who have a celiac, eating products that have even the smallest traces of gluten (whole gluten family)  can trigger an IgE allergic reaction within minutes, which is accompanied by sneezing, itching, swelling, and in severe cases, anaphylaxis . Digestive symptoms can also occur and may last for days.

Celiac disease is caused by an abnormal immune reaction to gluten in the small intestine. Blood tests are frequently used to identify patients with high likelihood of having celiac disease. To confirm a diagnosis of celiac disease, a biopsy of the small intestine is obtained by a GI specialist. If a patient with celiac disease eliminates gluten from the diet, the small intestine will start to heal and overall health improves. Medication is not normally required. A celiac disease is lifelong. There is no vaccine or medication available till now.

In contrast, a wheat allergy is an overreaction of the immune system specifically to wheat protein. When a person with wheat allergy ingests wheat protein, it can trigger an allergic reaction that may result in a range of symptoms such as skin rash, itching, swelling, trouble breathing, wheezing, and loss of consciousness. Patients with wheat allergy must strictly avoid wheat, and must have quick access to epinephrine in event of an allergic emergency. Wheat allergy is most common in children. Many children outgrow wheat allergy in early childhood. Many patients with wheat allergy can consume other grains.

The bottom line is gluten is a protein found in many grains and processed foods, which can cause serious immune responses and allergic reactions in some people, and continues to be a growing food sensitivity. A wheat-free diet removes wheat, which is a common food allergy, but still includes other grains and foods that contain gluten. While people with celiac disease cannot eat any food containing gluten, which is also found in other grains such as barley, rye, and sometimes oats.

This is my alphabet U for “Understanding Wheat Allergy and Celiac Disease”, in #BlogchatterA2Z #AprilA2Z in Parenting Tales with A Celiac Child. Do share your experiences as it’s always incredibly beneficial to connect with others who share similar experiences.

Published by Dr. Jyoti Arora

A daughter a wife a mom a blogger a poet

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