What is gluten?
Gluten is a protein contained in the grains wheat, barley, rye, and oats. It is a unique protein based on its structure that lends a doughy/elastic consistency to flours derived from these grains. This is why over the centuries, gluten-containing grains have come to be used so extensively in breads and other baked goods.
What is gluten sensitivity and how is it diagnosed?
Gluten sensitivity implies that there is an ongoing immune reaction to gluten in the diet, usually detected as antibodies against a subprotein of gluten called gliadin. Although recently these antibodies were looked for only in the blood and are found in 12% of the general American public, EnteroLab’s research has revealed that these antibodies can be detected in the stool in as many as 35% of what are otherwise normal people (U.S. and International patents pending). If high risk patient populations are tested, or people with symptoms, the percentage usually exceeds 50%. It makes sense that the antibodies are more easily detected in the intestine because the immune system reaction to food is mainly a response occurring inside the intestinal tract. Thus, the end product of intestinal transit, stool, is the most logical (albeit more messy) place to look. This is the rationale of the new tests developed by EnteroLab to serve the testing needs of celiac patients.
What are the symptoms of gluten sensitivity?
Although there may be no detectable symptoms of the immune response to gluten, the typical symptoms people develop occur when the reaction begins to damage the intestines. The symptoms, resulting from malabsorption or improper digestion of dietary nutrients, include abdominal bloating or pain, diarrhea, constipation, gaseousness, or nausea with or without vomiting. It appears that acid reflux in the esophagus, manifesting as heartburn, may be a potential symptom as well. Other symptoms people experience include fatigue, joint pains, mouth ulcers, bone pain, abnormal menses in women, and infertility.