Gluten-Free: A Necessity PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 25 June 2011 16:48

By Toni B. Snyder

The gluten-free diet is a necessity for those diagnosed with gluten intolerance and celiac disease. Why? Because the gluten protein damages the intestinal mucosa causing inflammation, malabsorption, and subsequent nutrient deficiencies. Eliminating gluten aids in intestinal healing, enhances nutrient absorption, and lessens the risk of autoimmune and related disorders.

Let's look at some reasons why the gluten-free diet is lifelong for many of us:

1. Celiac Disease

Need I say more? Celiac disease (CD) is a potentially life-threatening, autoimmune disorder characterized by a lifelong intolerance to gluten, which is a protein found in the grains of wheat, barley, rye and oats. In celiac disease, the immune system treats gluten as an invader and triggers an autoimmune response that causes inflammation and flattening of the villi of the small intestine. This interferes with the digestion of food and absorption of nutrients and damages other body systems as the condition progresses.

I have a dear friend who had undiagnosed celiac disease for 45 years. Over the past five years, she has been severely ill with several life-threatening bowel obstructions, osteoporosis, a hip replacement -- all because of the ill effects of gluten. She is trying to prevent further health issues and autoimmune diseases by adhering to a strict gluten-free diet with essential supplements. Luckily, my friend found a wonderful doctor (he also has celiac) who listens and is helping her on her gluten-free journey.

2. Dermatitis Herpetiformis

Bet you didn't know this... Dermatitis herpetiformis (DH) is celiac disease manifesting on the skin. It is a chronic inflammatory disease that causes extremely itchy skin with blisters and rashes on the limbs, torso, and scalp. A strict gluten-free diet is vital to heal the skin ulcers. Eczema and/or chronic dermatitis can also occur in unmanaged celiac disease. A gluten-free diet and appropriate supplements may provide relief in these cases.

3. Over 300 Symptoms of Gluten Intolerance and Celiac Disease

Did you realize that? Case in point... My beloved son's symptoms of eating gluten are severe motor tics and concentration issues. Before starting his gluten-free diet, his motor tics became so intense that he looked like he was having seizures! This was embarrassing for my son and heartbreaking for me. His current diet along with magnesium and fish oil has significantly decreased the motor tics. They are very mild now. Bless his heart.

My own health symptoms of gluten intolerance are digestive, glandular, dermatological, skeletal, and nervous system related. Whew! How do I know this? Because after my kiddos were born, a multitude of mild lifetime issues became severe. I tried everything nutritional and alternative without relief. Traditional doctors thought I was a hypochondriac and wanted to prescribe antidepressants. I am stubborn, however, and decided, after much research and denial, to remove gluten from my diet. Voila! That was the answer! After just two weeks on a gluten-free diet, I was energized and pain-free! Life just got better and better in the weeks, months, and years following. I bet you or someone you know has had a similar experience!

In summary, the gluten-free diet is an absolute necessity to manage the many different symptoms of gluten intolerance and celiac disease. Happily, there is increased awareness in the general public and the medical field. However, we still have a long way to go to educate about the risks of gluten intolerance and celiac disease and the benefits of a gluten-free diet.

Toni B. Snyder invites you to visit for more information on gluten-free living. Dr. Snyder is a nutrition consultant specializing in the management of common nutrient deficiencies and related health concerns associated with food sensitivities and allergies. Take her Free Health Assessment and discover the benefits of personal nutrition consulting.

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