Gluten is a substance that is part of many foods, such as breads. Some people are allergic to the gluten in a typical diet and develop chronic health problems. A gluten intolerance group is a support group that provides information for affected people through social contact and via websites. A group may also actively promote gluten-free eating through programs such as awarding standards to food service industries.
Celiac disease is a digestive condition where the body accidentally misidentifies the gluten as an invading substance and sparks an inappropriate immune response to its presence. Classically, the symptoms associated with celiac disease are gastronintestinal in nature, but as the disease prevents efficient absorption of nutrients by the body, sufferers may also experience dissimilar issues, such as depression, skin rash, and osteoporosis. The disease is not curable, but by removing the gluten trigger from the diet, a celiac patient can resolve the symptoms of the disease.
Another disease that can arise from gluten intolerance is dermatitis herpetiformis. This is a skin issue that results in blisters over much of the body. With this facet of gluten intolerance, digestive problems may not be present.
Wheat, barley, and rye grains are the sources of gluten in most problematic foods. These grains may also be ingredients in common foods such as pizza, pasta, and confectionery. As gluten is so ubiquitous in the everyday diets of many people, a gluten intolerance group may be useful both as an information source for sufferers and also as an activist group to raise the profile of gluten intolerance in the food industry.
A national gluten intolerance group, such as the Gluten Intolerance Group of North America (GIG), may serve all of these purposes. Its local branches hold meetings, disseminate information, and also allow sufferers to exchange personal experiences with each other. The organization also collates a list of restaurants that provide gluten-free food along with a list of health practitioners who may specialize in gluten intolerance.
Smaller gluten intolerance group organizations may restrict their activities to regular meetings and support for people with gluten intolerance in their areas. Even the smaller groups may post useful health information on their websites for those who are interested. The group's coordinators may also work together with gluten researchers to recruit volunteers for medical research projects.
Each group may have a membership fee. Depending on the group, this fee may entitle you to attend meetings and receive newsletters. It may also give you a discount on products sold by the group and give you access to a range of medical information about the condition.