Gluten is a product found in wheat, barley and rye. It gives dough the elasticity and ability to rise, and allows for a chewy end product. It is a source of protein used in everyday cuisine, and also incorporated into vegetarian products and pet food. However, too much gluten can lead to gluten sensitivity (GS). Gluten sensitivity can cause a number of conditions, including gluten-sensitive enteropathy and neurological complications. It can also affect blood chemistry and the ability to treat autoimmune disorders.
While primarily asymptomatic, GS can be diagnosed by certain common symptoms witnessed in patients such as dermatitis herpetiformis, anaphylaxis, and intestinal inflammation. Gluten sensitivity and its symptoms can occur during any age, and may develop due to genetic and environmental factors.
While many people correlate celiac disease with gluten sensitivity, research has shown that GS can be present without any celiac disorder, and can manifest with other abnormalities like neurological disorders. In the Journal of Pediatrics, researchers state that “the variability of neurologic disorders that occur in celiac disease is broader than previously reported and includes softer and more common neurologic disorders including chronic headache, developmental delay, hypotonia and learning disorders or ADHD.” Thus, GS can cause many different signs and symptoms due to a high gluten load.
The best way to treat GS is to ingest gluten-free products that contain the essential nutritional needs of an individual, since there is no cure for the disorder. If you have been diagnosed with gluten sensitivity, consulting with a certified dietitian is important before beginning a gluten-free diet.