What Exactly is Gluten Intolerance?

Irish homemade bread

Most people think that gluten intolerance means you are allergic to gluten, the sticky stuff in wheat, barley, rye, and oats that helps it stick together (eat most gluten-free breads and you will know what it is INSTANTLY!). I thought the same thing for many years, even after, personally, going gluten-free.

However, that’s not what it is.

Now, don’t misunderstand me… people CAN have an allergy to wheat itself, but the gluten intolerance is typically an autoimmune issue. It’s autoimmune because your body views gluten as an invader, like a virus would be. It generates more white blood cells and your immune system literally starts attacking the gluten. Your antibody levels raise, and that’s why, usually, a Gastroenterologist (the type of doctor you would need to see if you suspect a gluten intolerance or Celiac disease) would request the levels of your antibodies through bloodwork at a lab. Typically, if there is a gluten intolerance issue, it would show up on the lab results with raised antibodies. However, apparently, you can have a low antibody count and still have a problem. I know this because it’s what happened with my daughter. It’s rare, but it can happen. She’s antibody negative, but biopsy positive (this can happen when your immune system has been working so hard to fight it that it can’t register higher levels of antibodies in bloodwork).

Yes, you read that right… if there is still a question about an intolerance or even Celiac after negative results come in, a biopsy may be suggested. And if you do agree to do a biopsy, please, please, PLEASE request that multiple biopsy sites be used (my daughter had 8).

What that means is they do an endoscopy down as far as they can through the mouth into the small intestine. At the lowest point, they take a sample. Then, as they are pulling back out, they grab 7 more. Unfortunately, when they only grab 1 or 2 sites, it might happen to be taken where there is not as much damage (a gluten intolerance destroys the villi, which are the small hairs in the small intestine that help in digestion, especially sugars), therefore, giving a false negative. It’s VERY important that they grab enough biopsy samples and do it right the first time!

Another way to test for a gluten intolerance is through a stool sample through a company like Enterolab (www.enterolab.com). You would send them a stool sample for them to analyze and get results back to you. Unfortunately, they can’t give you an official diagnosis, though, since they are only a lab and not a doctor. You may be able to use the information if your doctor is willing to diagnose from it. For more information about how the process works, please visit their website link above.

Please do not delay a gluten intolerance test if you suspect an issue. If not dealt with, the damage in the small intestine can lead to other health issues, such as lymphoma. I will be posting on my next article the typical markers / symptoms that may suggest testing for gluten sensitivity.

Do you suspect or have you recently confirmed you are gluten intolerant? Share your story in the Comments below… you never know when it may help someone else!

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Sharing is Caring.

Do you know someone else who may be gluten intolerant? Someone maybe who complains about stomach and intestinal pain often? Even, perhaps, someone diagnosed with IBS? Share this article with them. It’s important that they take care of themselves and make changes TODAY!

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JessBio200 What Exactly is Gluten Intolerance?Jessica Stone is a wife, mom to 4, and owner of her own business in the fitness industry. She has 3 special needs children, with one child with an undiagnosed neuro-muscular condition that limits her mobility. She enjoys sharing what she has learned through her trials, experience, and research with other parents who are looking for support, encouragement, and helpful information. Get her FREE eBooklet Five Steps to Losing Those Last 10 Pounds today for simple steps to help you trim up and fit into those fashionable clothes you’ve always wanted to wear! Connect with Jess live today on Facebook!

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