As a way to manage symptoms of an autoimmune condition, in 2017 I transitioned to eating gluten-free. New words like lettuce-wrapping and Zoodles made their way into our household vernacular. It also involved questionable cauliflower creations and changing some of the restaurants we frequented.
These simple changes were nothing compared to what is required for someone living with celiac. Before we get into that, I need to define a few things:
What is Gluten?
I consider gluten the cockroach of proteins. In an effort to eradicate it from my home, I learned that gluten cannot be easily killed. It withstands heat. It is bleach resistant. It is invasive and though most people would never notice, for those with celiac, hidden gluten can have painful and dire effect.
The science news website, Live Science will tell you, “Gluten refers to the proteins in cereal grains, such as wheat, barley and rye” and that at the molecular level, gluten is made up of two proteins called gliadin and glutenin.
Wiki states that gluten (from Latin gluten, “glue”) is a group of proteins, called prolamins and glutelins, which occur with starch in the endosperm of various cereal grains. This protein complex comprises 75–85% of the total protein in bread wheat.
What is the difference between Celiac, Gluten Intolerant, and Gluten Sensitive?
You hear it like it is a sensitivity continuum or a trendy choice. “I am gluten-sensitive,” “I am gluten intolerant.” “Gluten doesn’t agree with me.” “I try to avoid gluten.” Hats off to anyone who is trying to make a healthy decision for themselves. I agree that gluten is hard on the system and have said some of these things since I went gluten-free.
But I need to be clear, I am gluten-free to manage symptoms of autoimmune disease. Eating gluten-free is a medically indicated tool in my autoimmune battle artillery. But this is in no way what eating gluten-free means for someone with celiac disease. For celiacs, it is currently THE ONLY solution to a potentially life-threatening condition.
How is Celiac Treated?
Following a strict gluten free diet, free from cross-contamination currently, is currently the only proven treatment for celiac disease.