Gluten intolerance is also called celiac disease and is an inherited condition that causes an extreme physical reaction when they ingest gluten from grains like wheat, barley, and rye. The condition is not curable, and can become severe, damaging the small intestine and causing poor absorption of vitamins and minerals or malnutrition. Though it usually cannot be cured, gluten intolerance can be addressed by avoiding products which contain gluten. This is becoming easier to do with many low or gluten-free foods available, which make good substitutes for foods with gluten. It's a good thing that such foods have been marketed, since about one in 100 people may suffer from gluten intolerance.
People with gluten intolerance respond to gluten by having an immune reaction. This can cause a variety of symptoms. Diarrhea, fatigue, anemia, sudden malnutrition, weight loss, weight gain, and muscle cramps may all result. The condition is usually diagnosed through blood testing to see if antibodies develop in response to gluten. When the condition is discovered, gluten intolerance is then treated by a modified diet.
It is extremely important to adhere to a diet free from wheat, barley, and rye for life, even when symptoms are no longer present. As people don't get over gluten intolerance, and each time gluten is ingested, a sufferer may be risking the health of his intestines permanently. It is particularly important for someone with this condition to carefully read labels and ask what dishes contain gluten when dining out. A sauce, for example, might be thickened with white flour and should not be consumed. Gluten is added to a variety of products that one would not normally think contain wheat, and the standard rule is to not consume anything the sufferer may be unsure about.
Since gluten intolerance can so severely affect health, many products now contain labeling that says "gluten free," or indicate if products contain gluten. This type of labeling may be found in a lot of natural foods stores, which are the resource of people with gluten intolerance. Alternative flours, vitamins without gluten, and products that are gluten free are easiest to find at health food or natural foods stores, and are usually most accurately labeled.
Having gluten intolerance doesn't mean a person cannot eat a relatively normal and standard diet. Unless he or she has other severe food allergies, most proteins, vegetables, and many grains are available, and he or she may be able to use types of flour other than wheat, barley, and rye. Some people tolerate soy flours and rice flours very well. People with this condition should speak to their doctor or nutritionist regarding alternatives to standard wheat, rye, and barley flour or gluten.