Gluten Sensitivity

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About

A special form of food allergy is the disease called gluten-sensitive enteropathy, celiac disease, or sprue, in which the body forms defensive antibodies against a portion of the harmless gliadin proteins in wheat, barley, rye, and possibly oats. These defenses end up attacking the nutrient-absorbing cells in the intestine, and therefore cause serious malnourishment. Celiac disease can develop in early childhood or later, and is a lifelong condition. The standard remedy is strict avoidance of all gluten-containing foods. Several grains don’t contain gliadin proteins and therefore don’t aggravate celiac disease; they are corn, rice, amaranth, buckwheat, millet, quinoa, sorghum, and teff.