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Gluten is a component that is present in many baked foods, such as bread or cakes. Especially people who like to bake come into direct contact with gluten on a daily basis. Gluten intolerance can lead to intestinal inflammation and allergies and should therefore be treated with caution. You’ve heard of gluten intolerance, but you’re not quite sure what it means? Or are you even worried that you might suffer from gluten intolerance and don’t know how to test for it? Then you’ve come to the right place. We are pleased that you have found your way to our big gluten intolerance test 2023. We will give you all the information you need about gluten and gluten intolerance. You will not only learn about the importance of gluten and where it is found, but also how you can test yourself for gluten intolerance.
- Gluten intolerance can cause different symptoms in individual intensity. Not all symptoms infer a gluten intolerance, but it is advisable to get tested early.
- Gluten is a protein mixture that contains different proline-rich protein fractions or prolamins depending on the type of grain. These include wheat, rye, barley, oats and various other grains. But other foods can also contain traces of gluten.
- Gluten intolerance cannot be treated and is only improved by avoiding foods that contain gluten. A gluten-free diet is recommended for life.
The Best Gluten Intolerance: Our Picks
Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before taking a gluten intolerance test
What is gluten composed of and in which foods is it present?
The two main proteins in gluten are gliadin and glutenin. Gliadin is responsible for most of the negative health effects. When flour is mixed with water, the gluten proteins form a sticky mass. This very sticky property makes the dough of many baked goods elastic and gives bread, for example, the ability to rise during baking. (3) The best-known sources in which gluten and its proteins are present are (4):
Bread, pasta, cakes and pastries are sources in which gluten is present. Wheat is also added to many types of processed foods. Here it is important to read through food labels and food instructions. Foods must be declared if they contain gluten so that people with gluten intolerance can avoid them.
How does the body react to gluten and what happens in the case of gluten intolerance?
Gluten intolerance, also known as coeliac disease, is the most pronounced form of a physical defence against gluten. About 0.7-1% of the population is thought to have coeliac disease. (7) It is an autoimmune disease in which the body treats gluten as a foreign invader. The immune system attacks both the gluten and the intestinal mucosa.
The intestinal wall and lining become damaged and can lead to nutrient deficiencies, severe digestive problems and an increased risk of many diseases. The most common symptoms of coeliac disease are digestive problems, tissue damage in the small intestine, bloating, diarrhoea, constipation, headaches, fatigue, skin rashes, depression, weight loss and bad-smelling faeces. (8, 9) Due to the variety of symptoms and individual severity of symptoms there, it can be very difficult to diagnose coeliac disease. Up to 80% of people with coeliac disease are usually unaware that they are suffering from gluten intolerance.
Gluten sensitivity without coeliac disease
In addition to people who have a noticeable gluten intolerance, there are also many people who react to gluten with mild symptoms. This condition is called non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Symptoms of gluten sensitivity also include diarrhoea, stomach pain, fatigue, bloating and depression. There is no clear definition of gluten sensitivity, but the diagnosis is made when coeliac disease and allergies have been ruled out. (10)
Irritable bowel syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome is a common digestive disorder that causes symptoms such as abdominal pain, cramping, bloating, gas and diarrhoea. Irritable bowel syndrome is a widely known digestive disorder for which there are already different cures and recommendations. (11) IBS is a chronic condition, but many people are able to manage their symptoms through diet, lifestyle changes and stress management. Interestingly, studies have shown that some people with IBS can benefit from a gluten-free diet. (12)
Gluten intolerance self-testing: What you should look out for in self-tests
The importance of coeliac disease tests should not be underestimated. Coeliac disease tests directly help to clarify whether the test person has a gluten intolerance or not. Many affected people avoid tests because they only show mild symptoms. Studies show that around 70-80% of affected people only have mild symptoms, and these are often not associated with coeliac disease. Such misdiagnosis can lead to lifelong symptoms. (13)
Gluten intolerance can be detected by certain blood tests, colonoscopies, biopsies, stool tests and genetic tests. Blood tests, stool tests or genetic tests are among the tests that can detect gluten intolerance. The important thing with these tests is that the gluten level is still detectable in the body. People who have abstained from gluten for longer than 6 weeks will not get a correct result from these tests. Apart from the tests, it is important to note that very rarely do all of the above symptoms occur at the same time. Most people only show some signs and the severity is also very individual. With coeliac disease, even the smallest amounts of gluten-containing foods can be harmful to your health.
For whom is a gluten intolerance test useful?
As soon as recurring symptoms occur over a longer period of time that can be linked to the ingestion of gluten, it is advisable to carry out a gluten intolerance test. The fact is that it is absolutely necessary for people suffering from gluten intolerance coeliac disease to avoid cereals and cereal products, otherwise they can expect serious health problems. The American College of Gastroenterology (ACG) has also published a guideline on the topic of coeliac disease diagnostics. The ACG always updates the guideline after new studies.
In general, the American College of Gastroenterology (ACG) recommends testing for celiac disease for the following patient groups:
- Symptoms: Patients with symptoms, signs or laboratory values suffering from chronic intestinal disorders. This includes diarrhoea associated with weight loss, fatty stools, weight loss and/or severe bloating and abdominal pain after meals.
- Relatives: Patients whose first-degree relatives have been reliably diagnosed with coeliac disease and who have symptoms or abnormal laboratory values. However, patients without symptoms but who know people in their immediate family who have tested positive for coeliac disease should also be tested.
- Diabetes type I: Patients with diabetes mellitus type I (juvenile form of diabetes) and complaints or laboratory abnormalities that can in principle be associated with coeliac disease.
In summary, these guidelines are intended to cause increased vigilance regarding celiac disease symptoms. (14)
How can I test for gluten intolerance?
People with coeliac disease benefit health-wise and psychologically from a gluten-free diet. This improves non-specific symptoms such as constant abdominal pain, bloating, constipation and diarrhoea. There are many different tests to diagnose coeliac disease. For the test, blood and tissue samples are taken from the small intestine and tested. It is important to note that the tests described only lead to an assessable result if the patients have not already started a gluten-free diet. (15, 16)
- Detection of coeliac-typical antibodies in the blood of the affected person
- Blood test for selective IgA deficiency
- Antibody test in children
- Taking a tissue sample (biopsy) from the small intestine
- Blood test in case of negative antibody test and suspicious tissue sample
Even in cases of gluten sensitivity, a gluten-free diet can also lead to improvement. Although the symptoms are not severe here, a gluten-free or nearly gluten-free diet is recommended.
How meaningful are the results of a gluten intolerance test?
In the first place, a coeliac disease test should be done by a doctor. Self-tests can give an orientation as to whether the presence of coeliac disease is possible. According to a study from the Netherlands, however, self-tests can lead to falsified results.(17) After a positive laboratory test, a small intestine biopsy is recommended. A small intestine biopsy is another test that can be used to check more precisely whether coeliac disease is present. A small bowel biopsy takes between 10 and 15 minutes and is completely painless. If coeliac disease is then diagnosed, it is important to follow a gluten-free diet for the rest of your life. (18, 19)
Where else can I have my gluten intolerance tested?
Digestive complaints are widespread and can have many different causes. Often, gluten intolerance can be at the root of them. But many people do not dare to go to the doctor. A diagnosis via self-tests should help against this.
Self-tests can give an indication of whether coeliac disease may be present, but they do not give a definite result.
Such self-tests can be purchased in drugstores, internet shops and pharmacies. Here you can buy over-the-counter tests for coeliac disease and test yourself. The tests advertise a quick, reliable and uncomplicated diagnosis from home. The tests cost between 10 and 80 pounds. Coeliac disease self-tests are sold, for example, at:
- Internet pharmacies and pharmacies
A negative reaction to gluten can mean three different findings: Coeliac disease, gluten sensitivity or wheat allergy. These diseases manifest themselves differently in each individual and lead to different symptoms in those affected. The symptoms vary in intensity and number. The most common symptoms include diarrhoea, abdominal pain and physical but also psychological exhaustion. In a lifelong gluten-free diet, all grains and foods containing gluten should be replaced from the diet. Not only types of grain should be avoided, but also industrially processed foods, medicines and cosmetics must be tested for gluten. In Germany, all foods containing gluten are declared. For diagnosis and dietary changes, a self-test is fine as a first diagnosis. In any case, however, a medical test should be done and the treatment should also be guided by a doctor. Picture source: 123rf.com / Bubutu
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