What is Gluten Intolerance

Published on Saturday, 23 June 2012 22:06

Gluten intolerance is also known as Celiac disease, celiac sprue, coeliac sprue, non-tropical sprue, and gluten-sensitive enteropathy. Gluten intolerance is an autoimmune disorder with a genetic predisposition.  Patients suffering from Celiac Disease cannot digest the protein gluten found in wheat, barley and rye.

Gluten intolerance should not be confused with a wheat allergy. In a gluten intolerance, the body cannot digest gluten. The intestines become damaged and cannot absorb vitamins, minerals and nutrients. A wheat allergy is an allergic reaction or hypersensitivity to a protein in wheat. The immune system reacts by treating the protein as a foreign substance, in other words, a “threat.”  The allergic symptoms result from the immune system releasing certain chemicals to attack the protein.

What is Gluten?

Gluten is a protein found in grains such as, wheat, kamut, rye, spelt, tricticale and barley. It acts as a binding agent or “glue” in wheat flour. In wheat flour, it traps bubbles created by leavening agents and causes the bread to rise. In order for bread to rise, gluten helps keep the gases in the dough that are being released during fermentation. When it is cooked it becomes firm and works with starch to allow bread to keep its shape. It also gives bread a chewy texture and the ability to be absorbent.