What is gluten? This is often the first question I’m asked when I tell people that I’m celiac and that I’m on a strict gluten free diet. I guess it makes sense to wonder what this strange thing is that makes myself and so many others terribly sick. I think I probably asked my doctor the same thing when she first brought up the idea that I may have something called celiac disease.
You may be reading this post because you’ve been recently diagnosed as celiac or gluten intolerant. Perhaps you’re a friend or family member of a celiac or maybe you met someone at the weekend who told you they were on a gluten free diet and you want to find out what this gluten stuff it all about. Whatever the reason, welcome! And I hope I can help.
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. This protein does a lot of damage to a lot of people. If someone has celiac disease, gluten triggers an immune reaction (celiac is an autoimmune disorder) and eating gluten damages the lining of the small intestine. This can cause a whole bunch of horrible symptoms and can lead to serious complications such as anemia, osteoporosis, dermatitis herpetiformis (a skin rash), infertility and various cancers. This is why celiacs cannot eat any gluten. None at all.
Symptoms of celiac disease differ from person to person why is why it’s often difficult to diagnose. If you think you or someone you know may be suffering from un-diagnosed celiac disease I would urge you to speak to your doctor about being tested.