The Gluten Free industry is both massive and confusing. Massive because gluten free products was a $2.5 billion business in the Unites States in 2010. Confusing because the classification for various types of gluten, can be well, confusing. How do you know you have a Wheat Allergy vs Celiac Disease vs Gluten Sensitivity? A group of scientists has tackled that issues and is suggesting a new classification system for types of gluten intolerance’s.
Fifteen scientists from around the around the world met in February 2011 in London to start the process of coming up with guidelines for a new gluten classification system for gluten-related disorders.
The official title of the report is “Spectrum of gluten-related disorders: consensus on new nomenclature and classification“ published in BioMed Central. The purpose of the report is to provide clarity to health professionals when they deal with gluten-related disorders. The group of scientists have agreed on the following criteria for gluten disorder classifications.
Gluten-related disorder 1: Wheat allergy
One gluten-related disorder is the Wheat Allergy. The study classifies a “wheat allergy as occuring minutes to hours after gluten exposure.” More specifically, the study notes “Depending on the route of allergen exposure and the underlying immunologic mechanisms, WA is classified into classic food allergy affecting the skin, gastrointestinal tract or respiratory tract; wheat-dependent, exercise-induced anaphylaxis (WDEIA); occupational asthma (baker’s asthma) and rhinitis; and contact urticaria. IgE antibodies play a central role in the pathogenesis of these diseases.”
Gluten-related disorder 2: Autoimmune reactions
Autoimmune reactions are gluten related disorders, such as Celiac Disease, that occur weeks to years after gluten exposure. Celiac Disease is a common gluten disorder impacting about 1% of people with European origins (Europe, North America, etc.,).
According to Pub Med Health “Celiac disease is a condition that damages the lining of the small intestine and prevents it from absorbing parts of food that are important for staying healthy.” Though scietists know that this damage is trggered by a gluten reaction they still do not know the exact causes of Celiac Disease. “The exact cause of celiac disease is unknown. The lining of the intestines contains areas called villi, which help absorb nutrients. When people with celiac disease eat foods or use products that contain gluten, their immune system reacts by damaging these villi.”
Symptoms of Celiac Disease include, stomach pain, diarreha, nausea, vomitting. Overtime other symptoms can include itchy skin, fatigue, mouth ulcers, nosebleeds, and itchy skin (a severe from of which is called Dernatitis Herpetiformis .
Another automimmune ailment triggered by gluten intolerance is Gluten Ataxia – is characterized by damage to the cerebellum (the part of the brain that deals with motor skills) resulting in poor coordination, loss of balance. Typical symptoms can include frequent falling, difficulty walking, distance perception problems.
Gluten-related disorder 3: Immune-mediated form
This simple term for this is Gluten Sensitivity (GS). The study says besides Celiac Disease and Wheat Allergy a third gluten-related disorder is Gluten Sensitivity (GS). The study says “there are cases of gluten reactions in which neither allergic nor autoimmune mechanisms can be identified. These are generally defined as non-celiac GS or more simply, GS. The diagnosis for this is more of a process of elimination the study proposes “We propose as a definition of GS those cases of gluten reaction in which both allergic and autoimmune mechanisms have been ruled out (diagnosis by exclusion criteria). More specifically, these are cases with negative immuno-allergy tests to wheat ”
Further this study suggests a diagnostic formula for medical health professionals – a formula should be good news to those with gluten-related disorders who seek greater detail and clarity about their diagnosis.