Last night, Catalyst (Channel ABC1) presented Gluten: A gut feeling. This was an interesting episode, which in a nutshell, described the importance of a gluten free diet for coeliac disease, however avoiding gluten to improve your health, weight loss and other gastrointestinal upsets is not so black and white.
Gluten is a protein found naturally in wheat and other grains. It gives bread its fluffy texture and pizza dough it elasticity. It is also added to processed foods such as sauces, stuffing and meats.
Gastroenterologist Dr Jason Tye-Din, described coeliac disease as the body having an abnormal immune response to gluten, which affects the gastrointestinal tract as well as skin, nervous system and liver. The villi in the small intestine are damaged, so nutrients from foods are not absorbed leading to nutritional deficiencies, fatigue and abdominal symptoms. The only treatment for coeliac disease is a strict gluten free diet. Even a crumb of bread can cause severe damage. Coeliac disease is diagnosed via a blood test or a biopsy of the small intestine, and must be tested while a person is consuming gluten other-wise the results will produce a false negative.
A gluten free diet is also thought to be beneficial in those with gastrointestinal symptoms without coeliac disease, however is avoiding gluten really the beneficial factor? Wheat also contains other components such agglutinins, amylase trypsin inhibitors” and fructans. Fructans are part of a number of fermentable carbohydrates called FODMAPs. Dr Peter Gibson, a lead researcher in FODMAP research says “food containing FODMAP can draw water into the bowel and ferment on gut bacteria. It produces a lot of gas and if you’ve got a sensitive bowel, like irritable bowel syndrome, will cause bloating, pain, diarrhoea and constipation”.
Using gluten free products (such as cakes and biscuits) as they are considered “healthier” was also discussed in this program. Dietitian, Melanie McGrice, showed that some gluten free products contain more calories compared to their gluten counterparts, as extra sugar and fat are needed to make the product more palatable. When it comes to it, a piece of cake is still a piece of cake whether it contains gluten or not.
If you have coeliac disease and need some assistance with identifying gluten in food products, tips to avoid cross-contamination or great gluten-free restaurants or cafes to eat
Or: if you are someone suffers from abdominal symptoms and would like some more information regarding FODMAPs
Or: if you would like some advice or guidance about how to eat a healthy, balanced diet
please visit us at Nutritional Strategies
T: 1300 88 65 44
147 Ward St, Level 1, Suite 7, North Adelaide