Harvard Women's Health Watch

Is it a food intolerance, allergy, or something else?

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Learn how to tell the difference, and what to do if you're reacting to wheat, milk, or other foods.

Walk down the aisles of your local supermarket, and you'll see something you likely wouldn't have encountered a decade ago—shelves devoted entirely to gluten-free cereals, breads, muffins, and other foods. Restaurants have also jumped onto the bandwagon, revising their menus to include dishes without gluten, a protein found in wheat.

The gluten-free diet was designed for people with celiac disease, who can't tolerate any foods containing gluten because their immune system reacts to it and damages the small intestine in response. Celiac disease is a very real, very uncomfortable, and potentially very serious condition. If left untreated, it can lead to anemia, osteoporosis, and intestinal cancers.

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