Gluten is a natural protein compound found in foods processed from wheat, barley & rye. Gluten acts like a ‘glue’ to bind foods together, it’s what gives bread dough its elasticity.
Any food allergy involves an immunological response, usually to a specific protein in a food. Coeliac Disease results from an unusual immune system reaction to gluten.
When people with Coeliac Disease eat gluten-containing foods, damage can be caused to the small intestines which are lined with finger-like protrusions called villi. Villi are needed to absorb nutrients, however, they become flattened and damaged due to the inflammatory reaction to gluten.
Gluten sensitivity, or intolerance, is slightly different. Although the condition is still provoked by gluten, it does not involve an immune response. Symptoms of food sensitivities and intolerances are quite varied and can be delayed, which can make identification a difficult and complex process.
Classic symptoms are similar between the conditions; therefore you can not differentiate between them by symptoms alone.
Common symptoms may include:
To determine whether you have Coeliac Disease a blood test or biopsy are the only way to get a clear diagnosis.