Overview of different types of gluten intolerance

Overview of different types of gluten intolerance

Owing to different disorders and intolerances, more and more people are eliminating gluten from their diets. Gluten is a natural protein contained in cereals such as wheat, barley, spelt, rye, Kamut and triticale.

The list below provides an overview of the various types of gluten intolerance:

Coeliac disease is an autoimmune disorder. In people with a genetic predisposition, consuming gluten, even in tiny amounts, causes chronic inflammation and the atrophy of the intestinal villi.  Following a strict, lifelong gluten-free diet alleviates the symptoms of coeliac disease.

Numerous studies have shown that gluten and wheat sensitivity  is associated with hypersensitivity to gluten or certain wheat ingredients without the individual being diagnosed with coeliac disease or wheat allergy. Gluten and wheat sensitivity can lead to symptoms such as headache, nausea, indigestion, fatigue, muscle ache and a number of other complaints. These symptoms can disappear again if the patient follows a gluten-free diet for a certain period.

In individuals with wheat allergy, the immune system reacts excessively to protein components of the wheat that are normally completely harmless. The allergy usually manifests itself with reactions of the skin and the upper respiratory tract. Treatment entails following a wheat-free diet that requires strict compliance. 

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common gastro-intestinal disorder. Typical IBS symptoms include bloating, constipation, diarrhoea and abdominal pain, which can strongly compromise quality of life. However, before diagnosing IBS, causes such as coeliac disease, gluten and wheat sensitivity or other types of intolerance should be excluded.