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Not All Gluten Intolerance is Celiac Disease

July 13
10:22 2017

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Ladies, have you noticed that as you age, your tastes in food change as does your tolerance and intolerance to certain foods?

Were there foods you disliked when you were young that you now enjoy the taste of? What about the opposite – were there foods you liked when you were younger but can’t stand now that you’re getting older?

What about food allergies or other allergies? Have they changed as you’ve gotten older? Many individuals begin to experience more allergies as they get older and some actually outgrow allergies as they get older. There can be a number of reasons for changes in allergies and food intolerances.

One food related issue that affects far more women than men is celiac disease. According to the Celiac Disease Foundation:

“Celiac disease is a serious autoimmune disorder that can occur in genetically predisposed people where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine. It is estimated to affect 1 in 100 people worldwide. Two and one-half million Americans are undiagnosed and are at risk for long-term health complications.”

Yes, celiac is far more common in females than males. One study found that fewer than 20% of people with celiac are male. Generally, most people with celiac are that way from birth or it manifests during childhood. However, many less severe cases are often not diagnosed until later in life. According to one source:

“It turns out symptoms are not only more frequent in women than in men, but they’re also much more severe and quick to develop. Examples include anemia, indigestion and genital disorders. In most cases this dangerous combination is what drives women to seek medical assistance, whereas milder cases of celiac disease in men remain undiagnosed.”

“In addition, especially during their fertile years, it is more likely that women are faced with some form of health care, such as pregnancy support or gynaecologist visits. These encounters may lead to a – sometimes inadvertently – celiac disease diagnosis even in the absence of symptoms.”

But not all gluten intolerance is caused by celiac disease. Doctors are discovering that some people have what is known as ‘non-celiac gluten sensitivity’. Both conditions may cause abdominal pains, fatigue, headaches and other symptoms, however, celiac involves the auto-immune system where the non-celiac gluten sensitivity do not.

To further complicate things, there is a third possibility concerning problems with gluten. Some people who don’t have celiac disease nor have non-celiac gluten sensitivity, but may just simply have an intolerance to gluten. Some of the symptoms may be the same, but not all. It’s often difficult for a knowledgeable doctor to distinguish between the three as the simple gluten intolerance may involve some immune system symptoms like those experienced with celiac disease but they are not nearly as severe nor as frequent.

Some doctors and researchers are suggesting that some people have or even develop an allergy to gluten. This allergy could mimic many of the symptoms of celiac disease, without causing the actual damage to the intestines that celiac causes.

It’s possible that as our systems change as we age, we develop some allergies to things that never bothered us before. Some suggest that these age-related allergies may be due to changes in our immune system as we age. For instance, I never used to be allergic to bee or wasp stings, but the last time a wasp stung me on the forearm, I had a huge red area that reacted and swelled, unlike any reaction I had in the past. My doctor told me that I was ‘growing’ more allergic to the stings as I aged. The same thing has happened with other allergies. I never used to be allergic to cats or most pollens but now I am at age 65.

So, if you’ve recently developed problems eating foods with gluten, it may not be celiac but one of the other non-auto-immune system conditions. Discuss the possibilities with your doctor, but regardless, it would probably be best to cut back on foods with gluten.

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HLA Staff

HLA Staff

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