Do you suffer from gnawing stomach pains? Are you wondering if an intolerance to gluten may be the cause? If so then keep reading as we get more into that.
What is Gluten anyway?
Gluten is not a protein but rather what is known as a protein composite. It is made up of two different proteins that vary from glutenin and secalin in rye, glutenin and gliadin found in wheat and glutenin and hordein in barley.
These are all a sort of elastic protein that is not water soluble. Gluten can be found in grass like grains such as wheat, rye, barley, spelt and kamut.
It has a sort of elasticity and a sort of glue like capacity to bind flour products together and give them a texture that is chewy.
If you are considering removing gluten from your diet, you may find that it is more difficult than you may at first think.
Gluten is not just found in baked goods. It is in flavorings, sauces, flavor enhancers and even in some dietary supplements and vitamins.
What is an Intolerance to Gluten?
There are actually three separate categories when you are talking about gluten intolerance.
There is Celiac Disease, wheat allergy and a non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Beyond that, technically speaking, an allergy to wheat is not gluten intolerance.
Celiac disease is where the proteins in the gluten trigger a reaction in the immune system that releases strong and unusual antibodies.
In time, the reaction that is caused by this wears down the villi (finger-like protrusions) that line the walls in the small intestine. This is known as villous atrophy.
The purpose of the villi in the body is to grab food as it passes along the digestive track and absorb the nutrients contained in that food.
When the villi are destroyed by celiac disease, your body loses the ability to process the nutrition found in the food you eat.
It can also cause there to be an inflammation in the walls of the intestines. When this type of inflammation is combined with the villous atrophy it can cause a vicious line of more serious health conditions.
Although the triggers if this condition are different from those that trigger celiac disease symptoms, some may still call them symptoms of an allergy to gluten.
Just as a peanut allergy or a hay fever type allergy triggers a histamine response, wheat allergies do the same thing.
Wheat allergies can present in different ways according to the body of the person suffering from the allergy. Some people get hives while others experience a severe, gnawing stomach pain.
While some people may think that a wheat allergy and celiac disease are the same thing, they are not.
A wheat allergy is a Type 1 Hypersensitivity meaning that the person body is overly sensitive to wheat.
Celiac disease is not in any way a Type 1 hypersensitivity and will not experience pain immediately after consumption of gluten.
A wheat allergy is often experienced as a condition that is related to something called oral allergy syndrome. This will also cause a gnawing stomach pain that can and often is diagnosed incorrectly as an intolerance to gluten.
Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity
In a nutshell, people who suffer from this see the same symptoms as people with Celiac disease.
The difference between the two is that both the biopsy and the blood tests that are used to identify the disease are negative. These patients also have negative test results for a wheat allergy.
This condition is interesting because it can only be diagnosed through removing and then reintroducing gluten to the diet and by testing negative for the other two conditions.
Also, this condition is relatively new as it just became widely accepted as a condition in 2011.
Symptoms of an intolerance to gluten
Yes, this article is supposed to be about the question in the title and we did cover that in the Wheat Allergy section. If you will continue reading this list of symptoms though, you will also find the answer to the title question and many more that you may have.
- Abdominal distention
- Bouts (alternating) of constipation and diarrhea
- Abdominal pain and cramping that is sometimes described as a “gnawing pain”
- Attention Deficit Disorder
- Borborygmi (rumbly stomach)
- Loss of bone density
- Brittle Nails
- Failure to thrive
- Stunted growth
- Dry hair
- Dermatitis Herpetiformis
- Stinky Gas
- Gluten Ataxia
- Hair loss
- Low blood sugar
- Joint pain
- Mouth sores
- Gum and teeth problems
- Deficiencies in minerals and vitamins
- Unexplained weight loss
If you feel like your pain may be cause by an intolerance to gluten, talk to your doctor.