Five Facts About Gluten

Five Facts About Gluten


What exactly is the coeliac disease? Coeliac disease is a lifelong autoimmune disease, which is triggered by eating gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. Some people with coeliac disease are also sensitive to oats. For people with coeliac disease, eating gluten damages the lining of the gut, which prevents normal digestion and absorption of food. There are serious health problems that can be associated with coeliac disease including osteoporosis, cancer of the small bowel and increased risk of other autoimmune diseases.


Fact 1: What is Gluten?

Gluten is the general name for certain types of proteins contained in the cereal grains wheat, rye that is generally found in bread, beer, barley,  pasta, and a wide range of other processed foods containing these grains. A gluten-free diet requires these grains and any foods or ingredients derived from them to be removed.


Fact 2: Gluten Sensitivities and Gluten Allergies are Different

Those with a gluten allergy (celiac disease) and those with gluten sensitivity suffer similar symptoms such as flatulence, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, abdominal pain, and bloating. However, individuals with celiac disease can suffer further complications from gluten consumption. Individuals with gluten sensitivity can avoid problems by following a gluten-free diet.


Fact 3: Not All Grains Contain Gluten

Corn, rice and certain types of oats do not contain gluten. These grains do not typically provoke a reaction in individuals with gluten sensitivity.



Fact 4: What are the treatments?

The only treatment for both celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity is a gluten-free diet. Switching to a gluten-free is a big change, and like anything new, it takes some time to get used to. If you’re beginning a gluten-free diet, the best way is to do so with fruits, vegetables, meats, fish and poultry as well as nuts and beans. You may be pleasantly surprised to realise how many gluten-free products, such as bread or pasta, are now available.

Fact 5:  How can you know if you have celiac disease?

The only way is to be tested. The first test is typically a blood test that detects antibodies related to an abnormal immune response. If the blood test is positive, then the doctor perform a biopsy to confirm inflammation in the lining of the small intestines.

The two most common tests are:

EMA (endomysial antibodies) – IgA: If you test positive for both tTG and EMA, you almost certainly have celiac disease.

tTG (tissue transglutaminase) – IgA and IgG: If you test positive for these antibodies, you likely have celiac disease.


For anyone looking to eliminate gluten from the diet, the key is knowing what to avoid and what to eat. Part of that challenge is knowing the range of names of products that contain gluten. To eliminate gluten, avoid products containing barley rye, triticale (a cross of rye and wheat), wheat and wheat products such as bulgur, farina durum flour, kamut, graham flour, spelt and semolina.

Of course, this goes for any foods using any of these products, such as bread, cakes, pasta, and also includes many sauces, soups, and even processed meats where gluten is used to add flavour. It can take a little effort to get started, but once you know what to look for, it is easy. To get started with gluten-free foods, I recommend looking to natural fruits and vegetables, fresh eggs, meats and seafood, and grains like rice, buckwheat and flax.


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