Gluten is a protein that is found in barley, rye, and wheat and is included in everyday foods such as cakes, breads, cereals, pastas and biscuits. Some condiments such as mustard, mayonnaise, malt vinegar, as well as alcoholic beverages such as beer and whiskey, also contain gluten. Gluten may also be found in certain restaurant food or snack foods such as chips, cooking oils, soups or sauces. Living with a gluten allergy can be a difficult journey and requires discipline and knowledge about the ingredients contained in popular food products.
Individuals are usually diagnosed with a gluten allergy during early childhood. On occasion, cases of a gluten allergy can be diagnosed during adulthood or even during the late stages of life. When an individual is diagnosed with a gluten allergy, it is referred to as Coeliac disease; it has been reported that one in 200 to 250 people are diagnosed with Coeliac disease. When gluten is introduced into the body, the small intestine begins to break down, which can cause symptoms such as diarrhea, abdominal pain, fatigue, and weight loss.
In severe cases of gluten allergy, individuals may develop issues with the reproductive system, nervous system and blood. Coeliac disease may also lead to diabetes, liver disease, osteoporosis, or bowel cancer. The best treatment to avoid ongoing symptoms is to eliminate any food products containing gluten from the diet. Once gluten is removed from the diet, the small intestine and the bowel are able to heal, which eliminates symptoms of the gluten allergy.
Ongoing monitoring from a doctor or dietician may also prove to be successful in managing a gluten allergy; these professionals can help recommend substitutions for the foods containing gluten. Also, the doctor may be able to prescribe certain gluten-free food products, or even a steroid prescription to help manage the allergy symptoms if eliminating gluten from the diet is not successful in alleviating them altogether.
Because many fibrous foods are eliminated from the diet of an individual experiencing a gluten allergy, laxatives or fiber supplements may need to be added to the diet in order to avoid constipation. Also, vitamin and mineral supplements may also need to be added to the diet due to the decrease in iron and calcium consumption.
A diet rich in healthy fruits and vegetables and an assortment of gluten-free products can help the individual lead a normal lifestyle, but these products can also be expensive. Those who suffer from a gluten allergy may be able to obtain a doctor's prescription for certain gluten-free products and take a tax deduction at the end of the year.
Although there is no cure for a gluten allergy, a gluten-free diet can help eliminate severe reactions within the body. Shopping at health food stores or grocery stores that offer gluten-free products can help to alleviate the feelings of deprivation associated with missing some favorite foods. Armed with knowledge about food labels and ingredients, sufferers can take control over their gluten allergy and live a healthy life.
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