Gluten is a protein found in wheat and other cereal grains such as rye, spelt, barley, kamut, couscous and oats. It is the constituent that give bread and pasta their chewy and spongy texture. However some individuals may experience adverse reactions which often involve dermatitis, eczema, and diarrhea after consumption. The medical condition caused by eating gluten and lead to damage of the intestinal lining and inflammation is called Celiac Disease. It is an autoimmune disease and may also affect other parts of the body, hence neither an allergy nor intolerance.
Gluten can also cause allergy and intolerance in individuals. True allergy involved the immunological response which anti- bodies (IgE) are produced to trigger series of symptoms including tingling of the mouth, hives, and swelling of the lips and constriction of the throat. In some cases, life-threatening reaction known as anaphylaxis, for example, difficulties in breathing may occur and required immediate medical treatment. An exclusion diet under the supervision of a dietitian or other qualified healthcare professional is required to confirm a food allergy.
Non IgE-mediated gluten hypersensitivity is a milder form of the adverse reactions. The symptoms are less severe and usually developed over time, for example nausea, tiredness, skin rash, joint pain, vomiting and diarrhea. Since gluten widely exists in many cereal staples in our daily lives, a gluten-free diet is often thought to be difficult to achieve. Many parents have trouble finding suitable foods for their children who have gluten-hypersensitivity. It is more worrying when their children appeared leaner than others in the same age. Parents who are concerned about their child’s nutrition should seek a qualified dietitian or nutritionist for professional advice.