In Spain, more than half a million people have celiac disease, which is why they are forced to consume products that do not contain gluten if they do not want to have their digestive process altered.
A few days ago, a thousand members of the Association of Celiac and Gluten Sensitive People demonstrated in Madrid to ask for help with the high prices of gluten-free products. Behind the slogan ‘Gluten-free and pasta-free’ was the fact that a person with celiac disease pays around 900 euros more per year for products they can consume, in a shopping basket that has been sky high for many months. In other European countries, people who cannot consume gluten receive help that bridges these gaps.
Are there many celiacs?
In Spain, it is estimated that there are around 600,000 people with celiac disease. If we go to the numbers of Spaniards with sensitivity to gluten, it is estimated that they are around half a million.
But what is gluten?
A protein that It is inside the seeds of cereals like wheat, barley, rye, spelt and some varieties of oats.. This protein is what makes bread and baked goods spongy and gives them consistency, but in reality its nutritional value is very low.
What happens to them if they eat something with gluten by mistake?
People with celiac disease, allergies or gluten sensitivity are unable to digest this protein. If they eat a product with gluten your immune system (the body’s defense system) will kick in because it misidentifies these proteins as something toxictriggering a reaction that damages your gut and can range from diarrhea or a headache to life-threatening anaphylaxis.
Types of diseases that gluten can cause
–Celiac disease. Those who suffer from it suffer from their body’s autoimmune response to gluten. The symptoms they usually present are headache, diarrhea, gas and bloating, although in some cases there may be none despite intestinal damage with long-term complications that can lead to digestive cancer. It is common for the symptoms of celiac disease to vary throughout life, being very different in childhood and in adulthood.
–Non-celiac gluten sensitivity. In this case, we are talking about people who are not celiac or allergic to wheat, but who do not like gluten. After ingesting it, they may experience symptoms such as stomach pain, headache, diarrhea or gas.
–wheat allergy. People who suffer from it have an extreme body reaction when they eat or even touch or inhale this substance. This reaction can range from an itchy nose to an anaphylactic reaction to atopic dermatitis, vomiting, hives or an asthma attack.
How is celiac disease diagnosed?
The diagnosis of celiac disease is not something that can be done quickly. The first thing is to assess the patient’s symptoms and the possibility of belonging or not to risk groups, either because they suffer from a disease usually associated with celiac disease, or because they have a family history.
The next step would be to carry out a specific blood test, but the definitive test to be able to diagnose a patient as celiac involves carrying out an intestinal biopsy. To do this, you will have a gastroscopy before removing gluten from your diet.
What if I eliminate gluten from the diet on my own?
It is not uncommon to find people who decide to go gluten-free without consulting or testing, often in the false belief that they will lose weight. It is true that gluten is not essential for health and its nutritional value is low, but foods containing gluten are rich in nutrients such as fiber, vitamins and minerals that are important for our health.
Furthermore, if we eliminate it permanently, we run the risk of becoming gluten intolerant. It’s the same thing that happens if we completely suppress lactose without a previous positive diagnosis.
Gluten free products, how are they made?
Thanks to a technological process, the industry managed to break down each grain of these cereals and separate the gluten on the one hand and the starch on the other. This is achieved with a process called wet milling, which manages to obtain celiac-friendly wheat starch.
What treatments are there for celiac disease?
Currently, there is only one treatment: the diet, that is, consuming gluten-free products. That’s why they inevitably have to go through the checkout and multiply their spending by four in the shopping cart.
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