Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Science Byte

Today's Science Byte is brought to you by Robbins & Cotran's Pathologic Basis of Disease, p. 795.

Gluten-free products & recipes are becoming more & more common - how come?

Gluten is found in wheat & some other grains - these plants store their energy in this protein form. Celiac disease is basically a gluten intolerance. Around 1% of people in countries that are mainly of Caucasian or European descent have this disease. When people with celiac disease eat anything with gluten in it (bread, pasta, anything with flour, etc), they suffer from a number of gastrointestinal upsets - bloating & ... well, to put it delicately, they'll be running to the washroom a lot. This can lead to chronic fatigue & anemia.

When gluten is absorbed in the intestines, the protein is degraded into the constituent amino acids. One of these is called gliadin - not one of the amino acids our body uses to make our own proteins. People with celiac disease will have an immune reaction to gliadin - this inflammation damages the intestinal lining, which decreases absorption & increases excretion.

The only "cure" is a gluten-free diet. Luckily, more recipes are becoming readily available so that salad & rice are not the only things on the menu.


LiPeony said...

very interesting! I had someone do a presentation about it. I think it's very important to educate people preventable conditions like these. =D

johnniebelinda said...

I know all to well about gluten and it's effect. My walking partner sufferes from it. Do you know if there is a condition where sugar makes your skin itch and causes a rash?

Amanda said...

hey johnnie - it looks like sugar can cause skin itch. The process to whiten sugar can be toxic to some people. Plus, certain bacteria can thrive & overgrow when there's too much sugar in the system (and usually if something else is wrong at the same time). It can be linked to liver disease & diabetes, so you should definitely get checked out if it's something that's serious.

Here are a couple links to read up on it: