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Autism Treatment – The Difference Between Gluten Sensitivity and Celiacs

Posted on 27 January 2010 by admin

Let’s talk a little bit about the differences between gluten sensitivity and Celiac disease. Now for most of the kids on the Autism spectrum we talk about the gluten and casein free diet as a primary diet to help reduce some of the inflammatory proteins that are found in gluten. Gluten is found in wheat and casein is found in dairy. But we know that these foods also have a drug like effect on many kids because they have something called peptides. Peptides are small amino acid chains that can influence brain chemistry adversely.

So gluten sensitivity is actually having an intolerance in the body to the gluten protein found in the wheat. Celiac disease is a form of gluten sensitivity except that with Celiac disease it is actually a genetic disorder where you truly lack the ability to breakdown the specific proteins found in wheat, one of them being gluten, another one is something called gliadin. Gliadin is actually a subfraction of gluten and it is an inflammatory protein in individuals with Celiac disease where they lack the specific enzymes that allow them to process that protein in the digestive tract. Then it creates an autoimmune reaction, auto meaning self, immune reaction in the gut and that leads to an inflammatory type process and essentially over time it starts to wear away at the surface lining of the gut. What I often tell people is you can have a gluten sensitivity and not Celiac disease but if you have Celiac disease, you have gluten sensitivity. Everyone with Celiac disease has a gluten sensitivity but not everybody who has a gluten sensitivity has Celiac disease.

Testing for it can be somewhat complicated. You can do an IgG food sensitivity profile and look for reactions to gluten, to look for reactions to gliadin and even to look for reactions to the entire wheat complex if you will. That only identifies a sensitivity reaction. The Celiac disease tests are more in-depth. You can do IgA as well as IgG reactions to gliadin. You can do an IgA reaction which is an immune test for something called transglutaminase. There is also something called reticulin antibodies. Many times to get a confirmatory diagnosis, some gastrointestinal doctors will also put a scope down into the intestinal system and take biopsy samples of different parts of the intestinal tract to see if there are cellular changes specific to Celiac disease. So it is a little bit more in-depth getting a diagnosis of Celiac disease as opposed to getting a diagnosis of gluten intolerance. The treatment for it is essentially the same and that is the avoidance of gluten proteins. I just wanted to make you aware that there is a distinction between gluten sensitivity and Celiac disease. With kids on the spectrum it is one of those things that we make a common recommendation for because we know it helps so many of them, not only from a digestive standpoint but from a cognitive standpoint.

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