Gluten intolerance or gluten sensitivity?

Gluten intolerance or gluten sensitivity?

The range of foods advertised to be gluten-free is now huge. More and more people are turning to such goods with the belief that gluten is not good for their health. For many people, this step is unnecessary and can make diagnosis of serious diseases more difficult.

Is there any gluten sensitivity at all?
When it comes to nutrition, many people can tell about acquaintances and friends who switched to gluten-free products would have gotten rid of health problems such as bloated stomach or diarrhea. According to interest groups, every 20th German suffers from gluten sensitivity, so the glue protein cannot be digested properly. Fear of possible intolerance has made gluten-free foods so popular. So far, however, experts have been trying to determine whether there is any gluten sensitivity at all.

Gluten sensitivity is not the same as gluten intolerance
Gluten, also known as glue protein or glue, refers to proteins that are found in the seeds of some types of cereals. Some grains, such as wheat, spelled or rye, contain a lot of gluten, oats and barley tend to have little, and corn or rice are gluten-free. A gluten sensitivity cannot be determined medically directly. But a gluten intolerance. In celiac disease, as the gluten allergy is medically called, the small intestine becomes inflamed in response to gluten. To determine gluten sensitivity, a doctor would first rule out celiac disease and a wheat allergy through tests. If a gluten-free diet leads to an improvement in the patient, it is a matter of gluten sensitivity. However, Stephanie Baas from the German Celiac Society (DZG) sees no evidence that the symptoms were caused by gluten: "The mere fact that the diet is changed can make you feel better."

Experiment in Australia
Scientists at Box Hill Hospital in the Australian state of Victoria carried out an experiment with 34 people to study the effects of a gluten-free diet without a placebo effect. Without knowing which group they belonged to, the subjects ate either gluten-containing or gluten-free bread every day for six weeks. The result was that those on a gluten-free diet were better off. "This is a clear indication that the consumption of cereals and gluten sensitivity are related," said Baas. The researchers said: "Gluten sensitivity could exist, but we could not elucidate the mechanism of its development."

Insect repellents in cereals the cause?
A team led by Detlef Schuppan from the Gutenberg University Mainz recently tracked down the phenomenon. The scientists compared the reactions of the immune system to modern high-performance cereals and the reaction to old and exotic cereals. They concluded that instead of gluten sensitivity, gluten sensitivity could be caused by proteins called adenosine triphosphate amylase (ATI). Since these mostly occur together with gluten in the grain, the effects of the substances have so far been difficult to tell apart. If the suspicion should be confirmed, a possible explanation for the accumulation of gluten sensitivity in recent years would have been found, because ATIs are natural insect repellants that have been specifically crossed in high-performance wheat and other cereals in order to achieve higher yields. The scientists don't want to commit themselves yet. "The whole thing is very new," said Schuppan. "We need even more clinical trial data to derive consequences for the patient."

No benefit for healthy people
For some people, celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow or Miley Cyrus are also crucial to live gluten-free and try to lose weight. Others believe that such foods are healthier. "But that's not the way it is," explains DZG doctor Baas. "The gluten-free diet has no use for healthy people - on the contrary." Rather, such products would often taste dry and crumble. "Gluten is a flavor carrier, holds the dough together and gives baked goods a pleasant consistency." If there is no adhesive protein, the manufacturer has to mix more sugar and fat in products such as bread, cakes or cookies.

Diagnosis is difficult
Gluten-free foods are therefore not suitable for losing weight per se. Another negative aspect is addressed by Baas: "The fact that some people use the special products without need makes it difficult for us to diagnose serious intolerances such as celiac disease." Antibody tests for the autoimmune disease would only work if the person concerned had enough gluten. If the disease was not Diagnosed in time can have serious consequences from osteoporosis to intestinal tumors.

Gluten-free mineral water
"Anyone who suspects that they are intolerant should have the cause checked by a doctor before trying gluten-free food," advises Baas. If gluten intolerance is found, you should always look closely at the ingredients of the food. The German Celiac Society points out that otherwise it is often not clear which products contain this adhesive protein. However, some foods almost always contain gluten, for example soy sauce. On the other hand, one should recognize absurd offers as such, for example, the consumer center discovered Saxony in Spain Mineral water, which was advertised as "gluten-free". In Germany you can find hard cheese or unfilled chocolate, which are marked accordingly. It should be known that none of these products normally contain gluten. (Ad)

Image: Marianne J. /

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