People with food allergies are finding out they need to avoid wheat, gluten
and dairy, and not always for the most obvious reasons. For example, despite
the widespread recognition of lactose intolerance, more people actually
are allergic to casein, which is milk protein than to lactose, which is
milk sugar. Celiac disease, which is triggered by gluten, the protein found
in certain grains such as wheat, is also a major concern.
The number of people who suffer from food sensitivities, food intolerance
and food allergies is rising, Or perhaps it is more accurate to say that
people are becoming more aware that their symptoms are a result of sensitivities,
intolerance, and allergies to certain foods.
The worst food allergens are wheat, gluten and casein.
Celiac disease is a condition in which gluten cannot be tolerated in any form including barley products, wheat products, flour and beer. When someone afflicted with celiac disease eats gluten, the body thinks it has been injured and reacts on itself, damaging the small intestine and preventing the absorption of certain nutrients. In addition to frequent stomach upset, symptoms can range from mild to severe, and from sporadic to chronic. All gluten should be avoided even during symptom-free times, since the damage is cumulative.
Celiac disease is the most common chronic intestinal disorder in the world, and of all patients referred to gastroenterologists, one in 50 have undiagnosed celiac disease. Celiac sufferers with gluten-free diet may extend their life expectancy up to five years beyond the norm.
Doctors and scientists are ascertaining that celiac disease is far more
prevalent than previously believed. The University of Chicago Celiac Disease
Program reports that the prevalence of celiac disease in the United States
is 1 in 133 average healthy people, 1 in 56 in people with related symptoms,
and 1 in 22 in people with relatives (parents, child, sibling) who are
celiac, This report also states that there are 2.2 million American affected
with celiac disease.
They also report that the average time that it takes for a person to be diagnosed with celiac
disease is 11 years.
Working on a gluten, wheat and lactose free diet can also lead to improved
health in other ways. Eliminating certain types of foods can treat illnesses
that range from the annoying to the debilitating. Wheat free diets and
lactose-free diets can alleviate symptoms that may lead to longer-term
health problems. One such health problem is colon cancer, which might occur if the lining of the colon is damaged from long-term
consumption of food products that are not well tolerated.
Other serious problems that may be related to food allergies are: depression,
skin problems, hay fever, asthma, arthritis, sinus problems and migraine.
Outside those with celiac disease, there are a considerable number of people
who have wheat allergies and are wheat-intolerant. Some estimates are that
there are 50 million people in the United States who have wheat allergies.
It has also been found that 50% of autistic patients will respond favorably
to a wheat free diet, gluten free diet and dairy free diet. The medical
community is becoming more aware of these problems and more diagnoses are
being made confirming the link between wheat, gluten, dairy, mental illness,
The recent findings regarding the efficacy which a diet free of wheat (gluten) and milk (casein) has on autistic individuals are nothing short of extraordinary. Testimonials by parents confirm that significant improvements occur in the lives of their children once they are placed on a gluten free diet and casein free diet. These improvements include: positive shifts in behavior, better socialization, improved language ability, and in many cases significantly reduced symptoms of autism.
By The Numbers http://www.celiac.org
• 1 in 133 Americans, an estimated 2.2 million people, have celiac disease an auto-immune condition triggered by the intake of gluten [Source: Archives of Internal Medicine, February 2003].
• 10-25% of Americans are classified as gluten sensitive [Source: Clinical
and Diagnostic Immunology].
• Wheat, dairy and gluten are among the 8 most common food allergens: milk,
eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, fish and shellfish account for 90% of all
food allergies. [Source: Food and Drug Administration].
• 6-7 million Americans have a diagnosed food allergy [source: Food Allergy
and Anaphylaxis Network].
• The only treatment for celiac disease is a strict gluten free diet.
• Many people believe that autism benefits from a gluten free diet.
Wheat Free Food Alternatives
For more information contact your local health food store. I used to have
a whole list of products here but the gluten free industry has taken off
in the last few years and you should have no trouble finding products right
in your neighborhood or online.