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An Introduction to Gluten Sensitivity for Food Professionals

blueberries waffles and walnuts


Life is always changing. Just when one challenge is mastered, another one comes along! Eating without gluten is precisely one of the shocking changes life can bring. Many of those with an intolerance may have eaten whatever they were brought up to eat within their culture for years, unaware of a diet-related problem.

 Gluten intolerance affects 1 in 133 Americans1, and 1 in 100 Italians2. Each country is affected in some way to varying degrees. It is now widely accepted that the disorder may have been more concentrated in Northern Europe originally. However it would be fair to state that it now affects all kinds of people, regardless of race or modern-day ethnicity. Advances are being made with regard to research and awareness, however.

What happens to a gluten sensitive person when they ingest gluten?

The villi in the small intestine are damaged by repeated exposure to the gluten proteins found in wheat, barley, rye, kamut, spelt, and triticale, or things containing these grains.1  The villi injury becomes more and more severe as it continues, and eventually can prevent proper absorption of nutrients from the food eaten.  ( 6-24-2013)

By wide consensus, it is agreed that the malabsorption, inflammation, and injury occurring in such a crucial organ of the body then prompts any number of physiological responses depending on the individual’s biological makeup. Persons who are gluten intolerant may be mis- or underdiagnosed, with any number of ailments: Crohn’s disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome and other gastro-intestinal issues, depression and other serious behavioral disorders, joint and muscle difficulties, oral health issues, skin problems, and many more3. Just think! What would happen to a person if they were starved of nutrients? All kinds of things! It is truly a shame how little has been understood about this disorder for so long!

Gluten sensitivity or intolerance can range from being almost asymptomatic to “full-fledged” with crippling symptoms, and it occurs for a plethora of reasons. Medical professionals are still narrowing down many of the causes, especially for genetic predispositions to the disorder. 4

A recent study led by a team of researchers affiliated with the Ricerca in Medicina Foundation NGO of Bologna, Italy uncovered some surprising facts.

They examined the remains of a young woman that dated from the 1st century, A.D. who had several genetic markers associated with celiac disease. At the outset, she showed clinical signs of malnutrition such as: shortened height, osteoporosis, dental enamel erosion, and cribra orbitalia (tiny lesions or holes in the skull eye sockets which is a sign of anemia). 

To investigate a possible celiac connection they extracted DNA. They found that she covered a group of genes predisposing her to celiac disease:


The results showed that the woman did in fact carry HLA DQ 2.5, the haplotype associated to the highest risk of celiac disease. This is the first time that researcher have documented the presence of a celiac-associated HLA haplotype in an archaeological specimen.

The results show that the genetic markers associated with high risk of celiac disease are at least a couple of thousand years old.”4

Therefore, this is not an entirely new phenomenon by any means. Perhaps the evidence suggests that we are only just now becoming more modern in our awareness of its existence!

So to be sure, there is more to celiac disease, gluten intolerance, and gluten sensitivity than meets the eye! While it is widely known that persons with the sensitivity should have alternative meals prepared, it is rarely clear just how one should go about it. So many products are not revealing in their ingredient listing and the risk incurred to an operation can be quite high! So it pays to do research and have a thorough understanding of precisely what is involved. For more information, please peruse any of the sites listed below. From time-to-time, I will be happy to post more articles on this subject as I come across more information, as well as practical assistance like recipes, links to other blogs, and more on alternative eating and dietary diversity.






Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or medical professional. The purpose of this article is informational only.






4. World J Gastroenterol. 2012 Oct 7;18(37):5300-4. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v18.i37.5300.



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