WHAT IS GLUTEN?
The term ‘gluten’ refers to proteins found in wheat, barley and rye. The common misconception lies in the belief that gluten is equivalent to wheat. While gluten is found in wheat, it is also found in other widely-used grains. Hence ‘wheat-free’ labelled food products may contain traces of gluten.
While experts agree that pure oats are gluten-free, oats may be contaminated during harvest, storage or other processing stages as they are often processes in other facilities that also process wheat, barley and rye.
COELIAC DISEASE (GLUTEN INTOLERANCE)
Coeliac Disease is a genetic autoimmune and digestive disorder that damages the lining of the small intestine and interferes with the absorption of nutrients from consumed food. It is triggered by the consumption of gluten found in wheat, rye and barley products.
Patients suffering from the disease are unable to digest the protein gluten. When these individuals consume gluten products, their immune system forms antibodies to gluten which attacks the lining of the intestines. As such, this causes intestinal inflammation and damages the villi. When the villi is damaged, one’s body is unable to absorb nutrients into the bloodstream. This potentially leads to malnourishment and other long-term health problems.
- Digestive problems such as chronic diarrhoea and weight loss
- Iron deficiency anaemia
- Dermatitis herpetiformis
TREATMENT – A GLUTEN-FREE DIET
As Coeliac Disease is a chronic autoimmune disease, the only available treatment is to embark on a gluten-free diet. For most individuals, adhering to a gluten-free diet will stop symptoms associated with Coeliac Disease. Additionally, the healing of the small intestine will begin within weeks of the new diet and often completely heals within 6 to 18 months (dependant on a case-by-case basis).
A gluten-free diet requires avoiding all foods that contain wheat, barley, rye and other grains containing gluten. Hence, this means eliminating many food products from one’s daily diet. Despite these restrictions, fresh food products such as poultry, fruits and vegetables do not contain gluten and need not be avoided. However, successfully identifying gluten food sources are key to approaching the new diet.
**All information provided by Ryan’s Grocery is for informational purposes only. The provided information is not intended to provide or substitute medical advice. We recommend you to consult professional medical advisors before embarking on any dietary changes.**