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What is Gluten free diet

What is Coeliac disease? | What are the symptoms?Gluten free diet | Key foods & ingredients

Cause of gluten free diet: Coeliac disease

About Coeliac disease (Celiac disease) as a cause of gluten intolerance

Coeliac disease is found in 1% of the average Caucasian population but is generally under diagnosed thus the amount of people that suffer from Celiac disorder is certainly larger. This autoimmune disorder appears in predisposed individuals and "runs in the family", it is also more common in type 1 diabetes (insulin dependent). It is often recommended to enquire on family history and get screened for this disorder if it has been previously in the family.

Coeliac disease is an immune disorder of the small bowel. It is caused by a reaction to gliadin in the small bowl that prevents the absorption of nutrients which is at the source of gluten intolerance. Gliadin is a protein found in wheat and resembling proteins are found in barley and rye. When the body absorbs the proteins the immune system  reacts with the enzyme tissue on the walls of the bowel and creates an inflammatory reaction.

Coeliac disease - gluten intolerance symptoms

The most common symptoms of Coeliac disease  are diarrhoea, weight loss and the related fatigue. Many people present these symptoms as well as symptoms related to the inability to absorb nutrients, but they are not systematically related to Coeliac disease. Children between 9 and 24 months often present bowel symptoms and growth problems quickly  after the first intake of gluten products. Older children may have more absorption related problems and psychosocial problems, while adults generally have poor absorption  problems. Many adults with subtle disease may only display fatigue or anaemia as their symptoms.

The typical gastrointestinal symptoms are diarrhoea which is generally large, malodorous and pale. Often this is accompanied by possible mouth ulcers, abdominal cramps or the feeling of bloatiness. Some people develop an intolerance to lactose. The affected bowel is less effective in absorbing nutrients, minerals, vitamins and carbohydrates, thus causing weight loss and energy depravation.

Healthy living with Coeliac disease: Getting on a gluten free diet

A gluten free diet is one of the only treatments that needs to be followed for life. Following this diet offers the internal walls of the bowel to regenerate and heal allowing the proper absorption of nutrients. Getting to grips with the foods that can be consumed is fundamental to proper health, labelling is often tricky and gluten proteins are not always carefully indicated. It is highly recommended to get professional medical supervision and see a dietician  to help identify the appropriate foods and menus that a person suffering from gluten intolerance should have. All things considered, when living on a such a diet for life, the risks of stomach cancer are generally kept down to a similar level of that of a normal person.

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The Gluten free diet

Gluten free foods

 A gluten-free diet implies  the complete avoidance of all foods made from or containing wheat, rye, barley and usually, oats. Depending. some doctors say oats are allowed, although The Coeliac Society advise against the inclusion of oats in a gluten-free diet. Approved foods are not as obvious, while the new EU directive come into place forcing new food labels in Europe to show if the food contains any of 12 allergens, including gluten, there are a number of foods that do contain gluten, but is not obvious. These are most processed foods, such as soy sauce or processed meats most of which contain glutens. Milk packs, dry roasted nuts, ready made cheeses, fried foods, all of these foods are examples of foods that contain gluten. When preparing food for a gluten intolerant, it is recommended to start from scratch using fresh ingredients. In fact this is one of the biggest healthy lifestyle changes is the reduction of processed foods and learning to cook from scratch. Gluten is used in the manufacturing of processed foods where wheat flour is commonly used as a processing aid, a binder, a filler or as a carrier for flavourings and spices. Contamination with wheat or wheat flour can also occur during cereal production, storage, processing or manufacture.

Chart of gluten free foods list

The gluten  free diet starts out with a lot of restriction in the Phase One, which lasts two weeks. After that period, the diet becomes progressively less restrictive.

  Gluten Free foods Foods with Gluten
Cereals, flours & cakes Buckwheat, corn/maize, potato flour, rice, rice bran, rice flour, sago, tapioca, Soya, Soya bran, Soya flour, Arrowroot Wheat, wholemeal, whole wheat & wheat meal flour, wheat bran, barley, rye, rye flour, pasta, noodles, semolina, baked foods made from wheat, rye, semolina, barley & pearl barley.
Dairy products & eggs Eggs, milk, cream, butter, cheese, curd cheese, coffee whiteners, Soya products Some yoghurts (eg muesli yoghurt), some cheese spreads
Puddings Tapioca, sago, rice, custard. Semolina, sponge pudding, pastry, pies, wafers.
Beverages Tea, coffee, herb tea, fizzy drinks, fruit squash, cocoa, marmite, most alcoholic drinks. Barley based drinks, barley fruit drinks, malted drinks, beer.
Fruit & vegetables All fruits & vegetables, unless with certain sauces or cooked with gluten containing foods  
Nuts, seeds & pulses All, except certain brands of baked beans and beans with a gluten containing sauce  
Preserves & confectionary Jam, marmalade, sugar, honey, treacle, molasses, golden syrup, some brands of chocolate & sweets. Confectionary containing flour, some brands of lemon curd
Soups & sauces Gluten-free if thickened with a suitable flour. Many manufactured sauces, stock cubes, and soups contain gluten  
Miscellaneous Salt, pepper, vinegar, herbs & spices, tamari, yeast, most food colourings and essences. Some pepper compounds, shoyu, ready-mix spices, some seasoning powders, certain  mustards. Certain medicines may contain gluten.


Natural gluten free foods

Many foods are naturally gluten free and healthy as they do not contain any form wheat, rye, barley or oats. These foods are all fresh meat, fish, cheese, eggs, milk, fruit and vegetables are generally gluten free unless they have followed some form of processing. However, once such gluten free foods are processed or used as ingredients in other foods, great attention must be given to ensure that wheat or other gluten-containing cereals have not been added in the manufacture.

Glutenless wheat starch

Wheat starch is produced from wheat flour follows an additional process that removes certain proteins including gluten. Not so long ago it was believed that all the protein could be removed. Unfortunately, the reality is that 100% of the protein could not be entirely removed.

There are two types of wheat starch:
Commercial wheat starch which is not pure enough to be suitable for consumption by Coeliacs in the gluten free diet.
Specially-manufactured wheat starch which complies with the international Gluten-free Standard can safely be included in the gluten-free diet.
Wheat starch of this purity is expensive and it is most commonly used in gluten free products specially-manufactured for Coeliacs, to provide tasteful  and acceptable bread and flour substitutes..

Gluten free specially made foods

Many specially-manufactured branded gluten-free and wheat free products are now produced. For people medically-diagnosed as having Coeliac Disease or Dermatitis Herpetiformis, basic foods such as breads, flours, mixes, biscuits, crisps and pasta are available on a doctor’s prescription. A complete up to date list of perscribable items is always available from the Coeliac Society Office. Gluten free luxury items such as cakes, chocolate and fancy biscuits and seasonal foods like mince pies are not perscribable, but can be bought over the counter, at pharmacies and some health food stores. The internet is now a great source specialty products, many are now available through online shops, combined with homemade cooking from fresh ingredients, people suffering from Coeliac disease can truly live a normal and healthy lifestyle.

Be informed of Gluten intolerance and Coeliac disease

There are now many sources of information for Coeliac disease and gluten-free diets, online book stores now offer a wide range of books and recopies as well as news about Coeliac, medical reviews and health information. By staying up-to-date with medical developments can gluten intolerance be accepted.

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