Three to five of every 100 children and 1 out of every 100 adults in India suffer from gluten intolerance. From the chapatti we eat to the many cereals that form a part of our daily food intake, we are surrounded by food products that are known to contain gluten; a protein found in grains like wheat, rye, and barley. The moral of the story is that you just cannot ignore Gluten intolerance in today’s times. Though research and awareness about Gluten intolerance has existed from a long time, it really came into the mainstream frame of mind in 2011, when Peter Gibson, a professor of gastroenterology at Monash University and director of the GI Unit at The Alfred Hospital in Melbourne, Australia, published a study that found gluten to cause gastrointestinal distress, among other things, in patients.
Though the facts and figures related to Gluten intolerance have been the cause of some debate, the sheer number of people that have adopted a gluten-free diet has brought the food and diet industry on its feet. In fact, sales of gluten-free products will hit $15 billion by 2016, up by 50% over 2013’s numbers. So, it’s no surprise that people today are more concerned about what they intake than anything.
Gluten related disorders include Celiac Disease, Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity, Gluten Ataxia, Dermatitis Herpetiformis, and wheat allergy. It’s important to note at this stage that one must mandatorily consult a dietician before assuming that they are gluten intolerant. Though all of the above mentioned disorders fall under the same umbrella, their treatments and symptoms vary a lot. Celiac Disease diagnosed as Gluten Ataxia, for example, can create a lot of hassles.
The following are some symptoms which might be a sign that you are gluten intolerant:
• Children particularly might face bloating, diarrhoea or even constipation.
• Fatty acid deficiency and Vitamin A deficiency due to gluten damaging the gut.
• Tiredness, fogginess and fatigue after eating a meal that contains gluten. Chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia can be a long-term symptom.
• Dizziness or feeling off balance.
• Hormonal imbalances like Post-Menstrual Syndrome, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, and unexplained infertility.
• Migraine headaches.
• Inflammation, swelling and pain in joints.
• Attention Deficit Disorder, mood swings, anxiety, and depression.
As you can see, not all symptoms are strictly related to gluten intolerance. It’s highly important, then, to share the cautiousness that one has for these symptoms with how they approach their diagnosis and treatment. Indian scientists at the Translational Health Science and Technology Institute (THSTI), AIIMS, and the International Centre of Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology have even come up with a cheap self-test for gluten intolerance that can confirm the diagnosis within 20 minutes.
The awareness campaign is supported by a lot of athletes, celebrities and people all around the world. There’s a thin line that separates gluten intolerant people from non-intolerant ones. So, accepting this as a common occurrence – despite what your stand on it might be – is what will eventually help people in the long run.