Unfortunately, little is known about Gluten hypersensitivity. It seems that the immune system produces an antibody as soon as someone with this condition eats a gluten-containing cereal product. This substance affects the mucous membrane in the small intestine. Why the immune system of one person does respond to gluten in the diet and the other person does not is unclear. The seriousness of the condition can also vary considerably.
It is possible to have celiac disease without knowing it yourself. It is estimated that 1 in 100 to 300 people in Western countries suffer from celiac disease.
Celiac disease is caused by a hypersensitivity to gluten. This is a protein that occurs in rye, oats, barley and wheat. If someone with this condition eats food that contains gluten, the mucous membrane in the small intestine is affected. Inclusion of other nutrients from the diet will then become impossible. Without these nutrients, the body can not function normally.
Symptoms usually occur in babies after having switched to food containing gluten.
Research and Diagnosis
As soon as there is suspicion of celiac disease, a blood test is first performed. If the result of the blood test is abnormal, a small bowel biopsy will follow. The pieces taken from the small intestine are examined for the presence of intestinal hairs. If these intestinal hairs are absent or shriveled, a gluten-free diet is advised.
After a while, it is checked whether the complaints have disappeared. We also check whether the blood picture has improved. A second biopsy follows, the result of which should give a greatly improved diagnosis. If necessary, gluten is again introduced into the diet. If the small bowel biopsy shows abnormalities again, the diagnosis of Celiac disease is made.
The treatment of celiac disease
The only treatment in celiac disease is a gluten-free diet, and only on doctor's advice. This means that no more food may be eaten which contains barley, oats, rye and wheat. Nowadays, there are many gluten-free products, flour, bread, pasta, biscuits, etc. Always keep in mind that the product contains a label that clearly states 'Gluten-free'. Products that can be used simply are dairy products, vegetables, fruit, meat, eggs and fish.
The intestinal wall can recover through the gluten-free diet. The complaints therefore also decrease. However, the recovery can take several months, sometimes a year. Keep an eye on the diet, because a small amount of gluten can cause damage to the intestinal wall.
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