Among the most common food allergies are wheat and gluten. But exactly what is a food allergy? Is it the same as food intolerance? Allergies occur when the body mistakes an ingredient in food as harmful, so it prepares to defend itself against the attacker (the food). Allergy symptoms develop when the body's immune system releases antibodies to battle the "harmful" food. Food intolerance is the response of the digestive system to an irritating food, rather than a response of the immune system. The digestive system canâ€™t properly digest or breakdown the food, creating an intolerance. Wheat allergy symptoms can include skin rashes or hives, nausea, stomach pain, diarrhea, itchy skin, eczema, joint and muscle aches and pains, shortness of breath, chest pain, swelling of the airways, and anaphylaxis. Symptoms of wheat intolerance may include stomach pain, nausea, cramps, bloating, gas, vomiting, heartburn, diarrhea, headaches, irritability, and an unexplained runny nose or itchy eyes. Symptoms of gluten allergy include upper repository tract problems, fatigue and chronic fatigue syndrome, mouth ulcers, anemia, osteoporosis, weight loss, short stature in children, diarrhea, constipation, bloating and other digestive tract problems, depression, Autism and attention problems, skin problems, and irritability. Symptoms of gluten intolerance include weight loss or weight gain, nutritional deficiencies, bloating, pain, gas, constipation, diarrhea, aching joints, depression, eczema, headaches, fatigue, irritability and behavioral changes, cramps, tingling and numbness, and slow infant and child growth. Other than severity of symptoms, the differences between allergies and intolerances are that an allergy can be triggered even when a tiny amount of the offending food is eaten. On the other hand, food intolerance is related to the amount of food consumed. A small amount may not cause any disturbance, but eating a large portion, or eating the food frequently may produce symptoms. What about Celiac Disease? Celiac disease is similar to gluten intolerance, but the outcome is more severe. With celiac disease, the inner lining of the small intestine has an allergic reaction to the gluten that is present in wheat and other grains such as rye. This reaction causes the small intestine to become inflamed and reduces absorption of the nutrients that pass through the small intestine from food. One of the main symptoms of Celiac Disease is gastrointestinal problems that include bloating, gas, cramps, diarrhea and fatty stools. Eventual signs of malnourishment will appear as a result of nutrients not being properly absorbed by the small intestine. Some people with Celiac Disease can tolerate small amounts of gluten, but others will experience severe symptoms within just a few minutes of eating an offending food. Treatment for wheat and gluten allergy or intolerance and Celiac Disease all involve removing wheat and gluten from your diet. Avoidance of wheat, rye, barley and oats is necessary. Foods that contain these ingredients must also be avoided. Avoid processed foods and beer, and be careful with vitamins and supplements that contain gluten as well.
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