Gluten in food causes problems – digestive disturbances that affect the flora in the digestive tract. Therefore, you need to be careful if you cannot tolerate this substance, as it can do some damage to digestion and cause nutritional difficulties as well. This type of condition is known as gluten intolerance.

While you cannot cure an intolerance to gluten, you can adjust your diet so you don’t eat foods that contain gluten. The condition is not easily understood by medical specialists, so it is best to focus on eating healthy foods that lack the offending ingredient.

To better understand the impact of gluten on health, you need to define it. Gluten is a protein contained in grains, especially rye, barley, or wheat. It is also added to drinks or foods, such as beer, pasta, or cereals. Some makers of cosmetics, medicines, or vitamins also add gluten to their products.

What Happens if You Have an Intolerance to Gluten?

People who have a sensitivity or intolerance to gluten often experience bloating. Some patients also feel nauseous. Another more technical name for the condition is non-celiac gluten sensitivity, or NCGS, for short.

Celiac Disease vs. NCGS: The Difference

Some people confuse celiac disease with NCGS. However, the two conditions are not the same thing. For example, a person with celiac disease is actually experiencing an autoimmune response to grains or food products containing gluten.

In this case, the body attempts to fight the substance by treating it like a virus. In turn, the reaction damages and inflames the digestive tract. An abnormal gene triggers the response. Therefore, a person who has celiac disease also has higher levels of antibodies in their system, all of which act to fight off gluten.

Both an intolerance to gluten and celiac disease frequently spark the same symptoms. However, an intolerance to gluten, or a gluten sensitivity, does not cause an increase in antibodies, nor does it involve an abnormal gene. Regardless of the reason for the reaction, sufferers need to eat foods, such as gluten free protein bars to avoid the problem a gluten intolerance or celiac disease causes.

A Gluten Sensitivity is Not a Food Allergy

Gluten sensitivity or intolerance is not considered a food allergy either. If you are allergic to wheat, for instance, your body overreacts and may produce symptoms such as vomiting, respiratory distress, or itching. While an intolerance causes a reaction, it is a different type of response.

Anyone can experience intolerance to gluten. However, females are more likely to suffer from the condition. Some people are born with intolerance and others develop the condition when they are older.

What Research Reveals

Studies reveal that about 6% of the people in the U.S. have an intolerance to gluten while about 1% of the population has celiac disease. Again, researchers have not pinpointed why some people experience gluten intolerance or sensitivity.

In some cases, a person with a sensitivity may be sensitive to a carb rather than gluten, which leads to the same symptoms as gluten intolerance. When this happens, the body cannot absorb the nutrients. This causes the carb to remain in the digestive tract and ferment.

In other cases, wheat affects the lining of the stomach – or the protective layer that prevents bacteria from escaping from the intestines. Therefore, gluten intolerance allows the germs to travel in the blood or settle in the liver, which leads to inflammation and soreness.

You can experience symptoms for several hours or days from gluten intolerance. Symptoms are not limited and may include anxiety, fatigue, gas or bloating, problems with concentration, depression, digestive disturbances (constipation or diarrhea), joint pain, headache, rashes,  nausea, or vomiting. Some patients experience irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) when they have gluten sensitivity.