Gluten Allergy, Wheat & Corn Allergy
Food allergies today are a significant cause of illness, especially in the developed world. Some western clinicians estimate that almost 50% of the problems for which patients consult doctors are related to food allergies.
This article presents some of the problems a gluten allergy can cause.
Types of Gluten allergy
There are 2 types of gluten allergies. In type 1 gluten allergy the patient is allergic to the gluten in wheat and corn and can tolerate the gluten in oats, barley and rye. This is usually acquired later in life and is due to pesticide residues in the wheat and corn.
Type 2 gluten allergy is the more severe type. In this the patient is allergic to the gluten in wheat, corn, oats, barley and rye. All these substances need to be avoided in this condition. This type of allergy usually begins in the early months of infancy, when wheat based foods are introduced and usually lasts through life.
Harish, a 10 year old boy was brought to see me with complaints of constant coughs and colds. He had been treated intermittently with antibiotics, homeopathy and Ayurvedic treatment, but his problems persisted in spite of treatment. I asked his mother if he had any other problems, she said he wets his bed every night, he is always tired, he is not doing well in school and had just failed his last examinations. I examined him, found him underweight and underdeveloped. I diagnosed that his problems were a result of a gluten allergy, and that this allergy had caused all these problems including dyslexia. I advised that he should not eat any wheat or corn or their products like flour, bread, biscuits, cakes or chapathis' and instead he should be fed rice, Jowar & bajra (millet) only.
I saw Harish again after 2 weeks, he was rebellious at having to give up wheat and biscuits which were his staple foods. I explained to him again the advantages of the diet and explained to his mother how she could make him substitutes for his favorite foods. Harish agreed to try it for 3 weeks. When he returned he was happier, his colds were less, his fatigue was less and his bed wetting had reduced. Six months later, his colds had almost cleared up, he was doing much better in school, at his last school examination he had moved up into the top half of his class and the bed wetting had stopped.
Three years later I saw Harish again. He said "Doctor I am all right now and sometimes I eat a few Chapaties". I asked him what was the result. He said every time I eat chapati's my hand writing goes really small and spidery and I can't remember things in class any more for the next month. His homework books clearly showed a significant deterioration in his writing and his marks every time he had eaten gluten. When I next saw Harish, 5 years had passed, he was in college, off gluten and doing well both in health and in his studies.
The abstention from Gluten helped him to recover his health and gave him a better quality of life.
Fatima was a young lady who had been suffering from bleeding in the stools for over a year. Her haemoglobin was constantly low she was being treated with iron supplements and steroids without much improvement. I examined her, diagnosed a gluten allergy and advised abstinence from wheat and corn. Over the next year she recovered fully. The only times her symptoms returned over the next 20 years was when she strayed from her diet.
Problems due to gluten allergy, respond well to the complete stopping of wheat and corn and the patient recovers promptly without needing any drugs.
Prognosis in patients who totally abstain from gluten
When patients with a gluten allergy stop taking wheat and corn along with all their products, the symptoms, specially the gastro-intestinal symptoms like hyperacidity, heartburn, flatulence, bleeding and abdominal discomfort show a discernible improvement in 3-4 weeks. A marked improvement in other problems follows in the next 2- 3 months. It usually takes 18 to 24 months for all the symptoms to resolve with total abstinence from all wheat and corn products. In people who do not completely abstain from wheat and corn products this recovery process is longer. Every exposure whether intentional or accidental, minor or major, causes a recurrence of the symptoms which flare up for 3-4 weeks and then gradually resolve.
Problems with early introduction of wheat and corn for babies.
It is well known that feeding a baby with wheat and corn early (prior to 8 months) can cause problems like diarrhoea, indigestion, colic, colitis, constipation, anorexia, eczema, asthma, ear infections, tonsillitis and developmental problems including autism like symptoms. This led to a strong movement worldwide, spearheaded by pediatricians, promoting breast feeding as the perfect and only food necessary for babies until they are weaned onto solid foods. This weaning should usually commence at 6 months with soft fruit and vegetables and be more or less complete by about a year.
The new born baby's intestine is porous allowing proteins to be absorbed intact without being broken down. This is beneficial for the baby's immunity as it is able to absorb immunoglobulins from it's mother milk and thus boost it's own immunity. However early introduction (earlier than 8 months) of wheat and corn allow absorption of the undigested protein into the blood stream and predispose to development of a gluten allergy in later life.
Gluten allergy is today the second most important allergy after Milk allergy and is a serious problem which affects an increasing number of people all over the world.
It causes a wide range of problems which can be alleviated or cured by not eating wheat and corn and all their products.
If you have been diagnosed with a gluten allergy you need to completely abstain from all products containing wheat and corn to allow your health to recover.
Always check the ingredients of the products you are buying if you have an allergy.
To avoid getting a gluten allergy eat organic (biological /ecological) food.