Know Your Status: Are You Gluten Sensitive?

food-allergies

A good number of people already know that gluten is found in various starchy carbohydrate sources, such as wheat, barley, and rye.

Here in the Philippines, we take pride in our carbohydrate-rich cuisine. However, since gluten intolerance is still not a familiar concept to many of us, we typically do not associate gluten sensitivity when experiencing discomfort after certain meals. Allergy or intolerance, specific to gluten, is hardly even thought about.

Pandesal, typical Filipino gluten laden bread.
Pandesal, typical Filipino gluten laden bread.

Studies on the prevalence of gluten sensitivity or gluten allergy in the Philippines have yet to be published. Though we have to be aware of the possibility that anyone might be part of the statistic, especially if gluten as the cause of discomfort is not top-of-mind.

It is important also to differentiate between gluten intolerance and gluten allergy. Allergic reactions tend to be immediate and often severe, as opposed to intolerance, the symptoms of which are not immediately felt. These could gradually set in from days to weeks, the causes of which become undetectable. Both gluten intolerance and gluten allergy are abnormal reactions to gluten manifesting in your body in different ways. Gluten adverse reactions include skin conditions like eczema, digestive conditions like bloating, constipation, stomach pain, and diarrhea. And even other symptoms seemingly unrelated to digestion, like fatigue, migraines, and severe ones like seizures.

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When adverse symptoms continue to bog you down, allergy testing and food intolerance testing would help shed some light on your concerns.

Allergy Testing

A trip to the allergist would help you determine if you are susceptible to  reactions to  particular allergens, such as gluten. Some other common food allergies are caused by milk, eggs, nuts, fish, or shellfish. Gluten and other food allergies can also be identified by undergoing a series of brief tests and interviews.

Here in the Metro, we have several hospitals and centers that conduct tests to know which food items you have to watch out for:

Quezon City

St. Luke’s Medical Center-Quezon City ranked as one of the top hospitals in the country, offers a variety of services from asthma, drug allergies, insect allergies, and of course food allergies, to determine which substance you have an allergy to, through its St. Luke’s Allergy and Immunology Department.

It is located at 279 E Rodriguez Sr. Ave, Quezon City. They also have a branch in Bonifacio Global City: St Luke’s-Global is located at Rizal Drive cor. 32nd St. and 5th Ave., Taguig.

Makati and BGC (Bonifacio Global City)

Another center you can visit in BGC is LifeScience Center for Wellness and Preventive Medicine. You can be informed through a simple blood sampling that is analyzed using their in-house Food Detective Kit, using Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) technology. This is a plate-based assay technique designed for detecting and quantifying substances, including antibodies, assisting in determining your food intolerances.

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Healthway, the mall-based clinic also offers what they call “FIT”, which is short for Food Intolerance Test. This already includes a consultation with a nutritionist for a briefing on the service and to explain the findings after the test. You can find them in Greenbelt 5, as well as other malls in Alabang, Bonifacio Global City, and Quezon City.

Manila

Manila Doctors Hospital, through its Pediatric Allergology and Immunology Department also conducts tests to determine your food allergies and food intolerances. Among its Allergology Services are allergy screening and allergy management.

MDH is located at UN Ave., Ermita Manila City

Alabang

With 30 branches nationwide, including Alabang, High Precision Diagnostics, offering Food Intolerance Testing, is also an option for you. The food intolerance test is simple. It is done through blood sampling, and can get the results of the test in two weeks.

Asian Hospital And Medical Center in Alabang also offers food intolerance and allergy testing. As with its tertiary hospital counterparts in the North, AHMC provides services for immunologic/allergic disorders, such as allergic rhinitis (hay fever), asthma, sinusitis, insect allergy, unusual vasculitis syndromes, and penicillin and other drug allergies.

AHMC is at  2205 Civic Drive, Filinvest Corporate City, Alabang, Muntinlupa City

With the variety of healthcare providers around, tests in determining whether you have some food intolerances and allergies are now very accessible. If you may be suffering from any of the symptoms mentioned, or you have an inkling but are not completely sure, visiting your doctor and taking a food intolerance tests could be well worth it. It can help improve your health and might even save your life in the long run.

Sources:

“Philippines.” Welcome to Ranking Web of Hospitals. Centro De Información Y Documentación (CINDOC), n.d. Web. 10 Oct. 2016.

Raneses, Katherince Grace. “Getting Tested for Food Intolerance at LifeScience.”Mucking Around Manila. N.p., 14 Nov. 2014. Web. 10 Oct. 2016.

Aventajado, Michelle. “My Food Intolerance Test – Momma ‘N Manila.” Momma N Manila. N.p., 2016. Web. 10 Oct. 2016.

How do you travel Gluten-Free?

travel

Ah… the joy of travel. But only until your cravings kick in and your stomach rumbles.

If you are visiting a place for vacation, things commonly enjoyed are the sights, the fun activities, and of course, the endless array of new delicious things to try. Even if you’re only taking a business trip, eating local food would be one of the ways you can savor the experience.

But, with having celiac disease or non-celiac gluten intolerance, you already know how frustrating it is to try to relax when you don’t know where your next safe food will be coming from.

So, what to do?

Preparation is key. Know that with just a little bit of time and effort, you can create the lovely vacation you imagine. And it will be well worth the effort.

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 Here are some great tips to help: 

1 – Visit online forums, especially for gluten-free dining, and find out which local places serve food that fits your gluten-free diet. Luckily, you’re not alone in your quest for a hassle-free vacation. You’d be surprised at just how many people are willing to make suggestions and give handy information on where to eat and which food items to avoid at your destination. Post your questions in forums at least two weeks in advance so that you have time to get substantial replies from fellow planners like yourself. Your trusty Facebook account is a portal to dozens of gluten-free Philippines-tagged groups. You may also find dedicated forums on Celiac.com. 

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2 – However, if you would like to give the planning to someone else, some resources organize vacations and travel around the world that are especially gluten-free. They reduce the worrying about the nitty-gritty to a minimum. Since they specialize in gluten-free travel, they will have more options for you to choose from and can make traveling a treat, especially if you’re traveling with your friends or family. One such company is The Gluten Free Travel Site

3 – Have a list of things you know are gluten-free, including food items and brands. If you are unsure of fast food places, restaurants, or even the food available at your hotel, visiting your nearest grocery store will be the next best thing. When the language barrier poses an additional challenge, Googling which familiar gluten-free brands are available locally will save you tons of worries.

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4 – Be armed from the moment you walk out your door. Pack your own airport food. It would make things so much easier if every bit of food with allergens is correctly labeled. But especially in the Philippines, this is not the case. Airport dining is limited to only a few restaurants, and gluten-free dining is not a priority. No-frills flights like Cebu Pacific, only have snacks that typically contain gluten, and so it is best to come prepared. However, some flights, like international flights of Philippine Airlines do offer some comfort. PAL provides gluten-free meals in all classes, and gluten-free snacks may also be available. All special meals on airplanes must be ordered no less than 24 hours in advance, and so take the time to call in advance. 

Want a first-hand account of the experience? Check out our review on an inflight gluten-free meal we have tried, on this blogpost.

airport

 

5- When you can, pack some food items that will last a few days. Order gluten-free in advance from your go-to gluten-free shops. Online shops like GERALD.ph will deliver to your home so you don’t have to go out to buy these things especially. Crackers, cookies that can last a few days in your travel pack may just save you a day of staying indoors dealing with unpleasant symptoms. Dry gluten-free pasta that is convenient enough to cook in a hotel suite or a BnB will come in handy and will save you a few bucks, as well.

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6- Take gluten inhibiting supplements in your luggage. Let us rejoice as there are multiple supplements available in the market now that may protect you from the effects of accidentally ingested gluten. Though there are gluten-free labels in food packaging and restaurants, dining experience may still feel like a game of Russian roulette.

Brands such as GlutenEase, GluteGuard, and GutenDigest can be your new best friends. Though none of these are available yet in Manila, you can have these shipped via the HealthPost site and get them in under 10 days. Most of these are meant to be taken with strict adherence to a gluten-free diet. Be careful not to have a pizza and pasta splurge! Though, take caution about checking in these supplements, as some destinations have stricter rules for supplements than others.

Now, do you think you can hack your next gluten-free vacation? We’re here with you. With these handy tips, you’ll soon find each trip less focused on where and what you can eat, and more on enjoying the experience.