The underlying cause of gluten intolerance remains a mystery for the medical community. Although celiac disease and non-celiac forms of gluten intolerance have a genetic component to them, not all celiacs exhibit this gene expression at birth. The real mystery of such an intolerance is manifested in the illness' many trigger factors.
The Cause of Gluten Intolerance
Celiac disease can be a very confusing issue for many adults. A large portion of celiacs enjoy normal childhoods with ordinary diets and no apparent sensitivity to gluten-containing foods. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, their health changes. Suddenly they experience a drastic decline in well-being that is later linked to the same breads and pastas they had consumed their entire life. This scenario isn't unique to celiac disease. A number of food intolerances can crop up at any time in a person's life. However, there are typically trigger factors looming in the background that provoke the onset of such ailments.
The medical community has identified certain genes involved in the manifestation of celiac disease. The most obvious indication that there is a genetic component to celiac disease is that it commonly runs in families. If one of the parents or parent's parents suffered from gluten intolerance, it is likely someone in the immediate family will suffer the same fate. Genetic testing is available for individuals who have celiac disease in their ancestry and, more importantly, if you have celiac disease, it is highly advisable your offspring be tested for this gene expression. Untreated celiac disease can have severe consequences, hence it is best to determine early on if the condition could be a likelihood in your or your children's future. However, the cause of gluten intolerance is not limited to gene expression.
During times of stress, certain genetically dormant conditions can arise. Just as stress can trigger minor symptoms like acne and weight loss, genetic conditions that have remained quiet in your system can suddenly come to head. Many people develop gluten intolerance at a time of stress in their lives. This stress doesn't necessarily need to be emotional. Instances such as pregnancy or menopause that may result in a hormonal shift can be enough to trigger a genetic food intolerance.
Many individuals will begin their bout as a celiac after a severe flu or lifestyle change. This stress-triggered intolerance can be frustrating because, though the stress may diminish, the food intolerance remains. This is because once genetic switches are flipped, it seems almost impossible to reverse the progress. Individuals hoping to cure their celiac disease through hypothalamic relaxation techniques will be disappointed to learn their gene expressions do not function similarly to that of a stress-induced acne breakout.
Environmental stressors can also trigger celiac disease. Anything from the chemicals in your cleaning supplies to car exhaust can eventually wear out your immune system. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder during which the immune system goes into hyper-drive and begins attacking the body's own tissues instead of merely the gluten it desires to eliminate. Persons with untreated celiac disease will often experience a worsening of symptoms due to environmental stresses, because when the immune system is triggered further, the body's attack on itself increases as well. Autoimmune disorders are a mystery in themselves, but trigger factors can aggravate the situation further.
Celiac disease has been deemed incurable by the medical community. However, the condition is treatable through a gluten-free diet and lifestyle. By eliminating gluten from the diet, many celiacs experience a complete remission of symptoms. This is why an early diagnosis of celiac disease is so vital. The longer this condition persists untreated, the more damage is done to the intestinal villi and, perhaps, other bodily tissues. Some celiacs with advanced stages of damage will never experience a complete healing even while they are on a gluten-free diet.
Unfortunately, gluten intolerance mimics so many other illnesses that its symptoms frequently lead doctors in the direction of more common diagnoses. Hence, identifying celiac disease in your genetic history is one of the most important tools you have in receiving a swift and accurate diagnosis.