Heartburn and Gluten Intolerance: Preventing Celiac Heartburn

Intolerance to gluten and heartburn is most commonly found in individuals who suffer from celiac disease. Celiac disease is a condition in which a person’s small intestine becomes damaged and therefore unable to absorb certain, necessary nutrients from digested foods. The damage in the small intestine is caused by a reaction from the immune system after eating foods that contain gluten – a common protein present in grains such as rye, barley, and wheat.

Oats were once thought to contain gluten. There is no evidence that they do, but oats are commonly processed on the same equipment used to process other grains and can therefore become contaminate.

The most common effect of celiac disease is painful reactions to gluten and heartburn is one of the less-common side effects, but it does occur. People who suffer from celiac disease are encouraged to avoid certain foods, much like those who suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease. However, celiac disease sufferers often find that avoiding gluten and heartburn as a side-effect is much more difficult. Gluten is present in most of the foods we eat and can be a hidden ingredient in many processed foods.

Avoiding Gluten and Celiac Heartburn

If a person suffers celiac disease, it is very important to avoid gluten. Not only will this reduce the frequency of heartburn, but it will help to avoid the other, more common symptoms of the disease. This condition causes significant abdominal pain, constipation that can be painful, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and bloody stool. (Many of these symptoms are common to acid reflux, as well.)

To avoid celiac heartburn and gluten intolerance symptoms, a strict alteration to a person’s diet is usually among the very first recommendations by a medical expert. However, these foods contain other nutrients required for healthy living. Therefore, it becomes important to replace these nutrients somehow.

There are two ways for a celiac disease victim to ensure these nutrients are replenished when avoiding gluten and celiac heartburn: eat foods that contain the nutrients lost when avoiding gluten (or a vitamin supplement) or discover the same foods that are made without gluten at all.

Remembering that gluten is present in many grains we eat, it is best to avoid certain food ingredients entirely. Wheat, rye, and barley contain gluten and are in everything from bread to cakes. Flour and whole grains are ingredients in more products than most people realize.

Wheat flour is often used as a thickening agent in sauces, is the primary ingredient in almost all baked goods and is present in the majority of snack foods we love to eat. An alternative to wheat flour is flour from rice, corn, potato, or soy.

To avoid celiac heartburn and gluten, one must pay very close attention to food labels and recognizing less obvious ingredients that often contain gluten.

Avoid foods that contain flour and cereal unless the flour is made from one of the alternatives listed above. Also avoid vegetable proteins and malts that are not derived from corn or soybeans, as well as vegetable gum not made of carob or locust beans, cellulose, gum Arabic or aracia, or vegetable starch, to name a few.

Modified starches usually contain gluten-laden grains that lead to celiac heartburn, so seek out starches made of potato, corn (including maize), tapioca, or arrowroot. These will be difficult to find, so an organic food store may be the best place to look.

Finally, soy sauces almost always contain wheat, so avoid them unless the label expressly says that it is a gluten-free food.

Beware of foods that use gluten in processing, as they can result in heartburn and other symptoms. These include labels that list starch, stabilizers, emulsifiers, and flavoring. Anything hydrolyzed or made with a plant protein will usually contain gluten as well.

A Great Debate about Heartburn and Gluten

Celiac disease and a gastroesophageal reflux disease, known as GERD, share similar symptoms in some individuals; the most common of which is heartburn. Celiac disease and GERD are opposites in the world of gastric medicine. Celiac disease affects the lower digestive system (intestines) while GERD affects the upper digestive system. There is still some debate in the medical community about whether gluten intolerance predisposes a person to developing GERD.

Some foods that are high in gluten certainly trigger heartburn in people with celiac disease, but there is not much evidence to prove that gluten intolerance leads to GERD. Supporters of this theory suggest that people with GERD that promotes heartburn can simply try a gluten-free diet for a period of six weeks to see if their heartburn symptoms subside in the absence of gluten. You can also use all of our heartburn remedies which are gluten-free solutions to acid reflux.

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