Gluten Intolerance

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Gluten is the group of proteins found in grains such as wheat, barley, spelt and rye. Wheat is the most commonly recognised and consumed of gluten-containing grains.

Gluten contains two main proteins called glutenin and gliadin. Gliadin is responsible for the majority of the negative health effects within humans however, similar proteins such as hordein in barley, secalin in rye and avenin in oats are known to cause issues.

When flour is mixed with water, gluten proteins form a sticky glue-like consistency. Which makes the dough elastic and gives bread the ability to rise when baked. Gluten can be found in many modern food products including bread, pasta, cake & biscuits/cookies, crackers, breakfast cereals and pastries. It can also be found in lager, beer, ale and highly processed foods.

What is gluten intolerance?

A common cause for many people who do not test positive for celiac disease, but are still presenting reactions to gluten products is gluten sensitivity or gluten intolerance

It has been estimated that between 0.5-13% of the population suffer from this condition with symptoms including stomach pain, tiredness and bloating.

A study published in 2015 reviewed nearly 400 people with self-diagnosed gluten intolerance or sensitivity and investigated whether a gluten-free diet improved their symptoms.

Results showed that 26 people had celiac disease and 2 had an allergy to wheat. From the remaining people, 27 of the 364 were diagnosed as gluten-sensitive/intolerant.

Only 55 people of the sample (14.5%) had a detectable issue with gluten and others were due to other causes or trigger items.

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Wheat allergy

In the region of 1% of the population suffer from a wheat allergy. Gluten allergies present in many similar ways to other allergies in that they are more often acute and immediate. Detection of a wheat allergy can be made by an IgE allergy test using a raised IgE level in your blood to detect a reaction to wheat.

Coeliac disease

Celiac disease or coeliac disease is a severe autoimmune disorder. It affects around 0.7-1% of the population.

The immune system attacks the gluten as a foreign invader and also damages the lining of the gut.

The damages to the gut wall can cause nutrient deficiencies, severe digestive issues and an increased risk of other health issues.

Celiac disease can be difficult to diagnose and should be referred to a medical practitioner.


Gluten-Free diet

Starting a gluten-free diet may be rather challenging, to begin with.

The first thing you need to do is start reading the labels on everything you eat.

You’ll soon realize that gluten, especially wheat, is added to a surprising number of foods.

You should also eat mainly whole, healthy foods, as most whole foods are naturally gluten-free. Avoid processed food, cereals and grains that contain gluten.

Gluten-free grains

Some grains and seeds are naturally gluten-free including:

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Note: When selecting oats be aware that although they are naturally gluten-free, some may be contaminated. It is always safer to consume oats with a gluten-free label.

Gluten-free foods

Many foods remain naturally gluten-free. However, more highly processed foods either have gluten or cannot guarantee to be free from gluten due to production contamination. If you are unsure, always read the label as it can be surprising that highly processed meat, dairy or fish products also contain gluten!

Examples of naturally gluten-free foods include:

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Most drinks are gluten-free except beers and lagers (unless it explicitly says gluten-free).

Gluten free alternatives to traditional foods

Increasingly, food retailers are bringing out alternatives to gluten-heavy traditional food options. While these cover most of the fundamental food types such as biscuits and pastas, more niche alternatives are also entering the mainstream markets. For example, food giant Sainsburys launched a gluten free tiger bread toward the end of 2021.

How, then, do you go about embracing these alternatives?

Removing gluten from your diet

Removing gluten from your diet means the elimination of grains such as wheat, barley and rye. Wheat, rye and barley have similar nutritional profiles providing B vitamins, vitamin E, calcium, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, selenium, zinc, copper and iron. Whole grains also provide a good source of dietary fibre, including the soluble fibre beta-glucan, known for lowering cholesterol and regulate blood sugar.

Gluten substitutes: how to maintain your nutrition

It is important to use alternative items in your diet when undertaking either a short or long term elimination diet to maintain nutrient balance.

Below are good examples of nutritional alternatives when eliminating gluten-containing grains:

B Vitamins

Brewer’s Yeast, Broccoli, Cashews, Chickpeas, Grains, Hazelnuts, Lentils, Mushrooms, Oats (Buckwheat Brown Rice Quinoa), Peanuts, Pecans, Peppers, Soybean Flour And Soybeans, Split Peas, Sunflower Seeds

Vitamin E

Almonds, Apricots, Avocado, Blackberries, Broccoli, Collards, Crayfish, Guava
Hazelnuts, Herring, Kale, Kiwi, Mango, Nectarines, Olive Oil, Peach
Pistachios, Prawn/shrimp, Raspberries, Salmon, Smoked Salmon, Spinach, Squashes, Sunflower Oil, Sunflowers Seeds, Swiss Chard, Swordfish, Trout, Turnip Greens, Yams


Almonds, Broccoli, Kale, Low-fat Cheddar, Low-fat Mozzarella, Pak Choi, Sugar Snap Peas, Tofu, Watercress, Yogurt


Almonds, Apricots, Avocado, Brazil Nuts, Broccoli, Buckwheat Millet Brown Rice Quinoa, Cashews, Coconut, Collards, Corn, Dates, Figs, Grains, Kale, Kelp, Peanuts, Prawns, Soya Beans, Spinach, Swiss Chard, Tofu, Turnip Greens, Walnuts


Aduki Beans, Blueberries, Chickpeas, Grains, Hazelnuts, Kale, Lentils, Lima Beans, Mussels, Oats (Gluten-free) Brown Rice Quinoa, Pecans, Pine Nuts, Pineapple, Pumpkin Seeds, Raspberries, Sesame Seeds, Soybeans, Spinach, Strawberries, Sunflower Seeds, Tofu, Yams


Beef, Cashew Nuts, Chicken, Chickpeas, Cocoa Powder, Dark Chocolate, Grains, Lamb, Mushrooms, Oats (Gluten-free), Pork, Pumpkin Seeds, Sesame Seeds, Spinach, Sunflower Seeds


Almonds, Beef, Cashews, Chicken Liver, Chickpeas, Clams, Dark Chocolate, Grains, Hazelnuts, Kale, Kidney Beans, Lamb, Lentils, Lima Beans, Mussels, Oats (Gluten-free), Oysters, Peanuts, Pine Nuts, Pumpkin Seeds, Sesame Seeds, Soybeans, Spinach, Sunflower Seeds, Swiss Chard, White Beans


Beef, Brazil Nuts, Brown Rice, Cottage Cheese, Eggs, Grains, Liver, Mushrooms, Oysters, Sardines, Shrimp, Sunflower Seeds, Tuna, Turkey


Cashews, Collard Greens, Dark Chocolate, Garbanzo Beans, Grains, Kale, Lentils, Lima Beans, Liver, Mushrooms, Oats, Sesame Seeds, Soybeans, Spinach, Spirulina, Sunflower Seeds, Swiss Chard, Tempeh, Walnuts


Almonds, Brazil Nuts, Cashews, Chicken, Cottage Cheese, Crab, Grains, Liver, Mackerel, Milk, Oats (Brown Rice Quinoa), Pine Nuts, Pistachios, Pork, Pumpkin Seeds, Salmon, Sardines, Scallops, Sunflower Seeds, Turkey, Yogurt

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