Gluten is found in wheat, rye, oats and barley and is often cited as the cause for a variety of unpleasant gastrointestinal symptoms, such as bloating, abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhoea and constipation.

This prompts many people to opt for a gluten free diet; however there are several important things to consider before you decide to go gluten free. If I have any clients suffering from these symptoms, I always send them to their GP or a gastro specialist first to rule out Coeliac disease.

Coeliac disease is a condition where the immune system reacts abnormally to gluten, recognising gluten, as something the body needs to fight.

According to Coeliac Australia, 1 in 70 Australians are affected by Coeliac disease, yet approximately 80 per cent of cases remain undiagnosed. This means a lot of people who have Coeliac disease have no idea, which can be dangerous.

Coeliac disease is a serious condition that can affect many different mechanisms and is not something to be taken lightly. Some people can be asymptomatic (showing no symptoms) and I have definitely seen examples of this. Usually a specialist will ask about a person’s family history.

One client of mine got diagnosed with Coeliac disease and it turned out their siblings also had the disease but did not show any symptoms.

Gastrointestinal symptoms are the most obvious signs of Coeliac disease, but other symptoms include: Fluctuating weight, fatigue, weakness, iron deficiency, bone and joint pains, recurrent mouth ulcers, skin rashes and easy bruising of the skin.

Research also suggests that people can suffer from non-coeliac gluten sensitivity, but the cause and treatment is not well understood. In this case, it may be the malabsorption of fermentable sugars that is causing the problem, not gluten.

How we manage someone who has Coeliac disease and someone who has gluten sensitivity is actually quite different.

If a healthy person decides to go gluten free but the rest of their diet is nutritionally balanced, then that is generally fine and there are no really serious consequences as long as they know what they are doing and are informed about nutrition.

When people cut something out and they don’t replace it with something as nourishing, it can cause a lot of different digestive issues. Wheat-based products form part of the carbohydrate group of foods, carbohydrates being a staple in the western diet.

If people do not approach going gluten free correctly, they may cut out carbohydrates altogether and end up missing out on vital vitamins and minerals.

Whole grains, for example, are very high in magnesium, protein, fibre, manganese, phosphorus and B vitamins; there is the risk of nutrient deficiency if these are not present in a person’s diet.

Another issue is that most people do not know what food even contains gluten- They see packaging that says ‘Gluten Free’ and assume it must be good for them.

Some foods do not actually contain gluten but are marketed as gluten free to attract that type of customer.

Often sugar and fat are added to gluten free products to compensate for taste and flavour, dispelling that myth that gluten free means low calorie.

The one piece of advice that I can give to anyone considering going gluten free is do not self-diagnose: get a proper diagnosis from a specialist before deciding you have an allergy or intolerance.

If you do decide to cut out gluten, find a dietitian that will respect your decision and help ensure that you are getting enough nutrients.


  • They are definitely for me. My body hates me eating gluten, ouch!

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  • This was an interesting mini article. Thanks for posting!

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  • I have gone gluten free due to bloating and other discomforts..It is wonderful how it has changed my life..I can actually leave the house now for a meal..I have found that lots of places do gluten free now so its good..I dont miss bread and I didnt really like pasta anyway so its good..I substituted rice for cauliflower rice and my family love it..Its very easy to go gluten free..I bought coconut flour to make a banana cake and it was really nice..

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  • Good article… I was told by my trainer that if you are able to eat gluten then you shouldn’t avoid it as then you end up gluten intolerant! I have a couple of friends who have done just that!

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  • Thanks again for this article; has been helpful.

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  • awesome information! Thanks for sharing!

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  • Thanks for sharing this article with good information; will be passing it onto friends with Coeliac Disease.

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  • A gluten free diet isn’t for me and thanks for your info, all good.

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  • great article very informative

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  • This article has a lot of useful information. My hubby read it too!

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  • I love my gluten and couldn’t imagine not having it in my diet

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  • I have so many classic coeliac symptoms my doctor sent me for an endoscopy – but it came back negative. I have been on a GF diet for 20 years now and can certainly tell when I’ve eaten something I shouldn’t. The cross contamination is not a big deal for me occasionally – but there is a cumulative affect that can sneak up on you. My suggestion is eat little bits often to maintain blood sugar levels – but eat fresh more than pre prepared. Brown rice products are very nutritious.

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  • good read- i never really knew the ins and outs of ‘gluten free’

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  • a lot of parents self diagnose these days and cut things out of kids diets and are doing more harm than good

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  • Its so amazing to me that there are so many people with allergies and such where as when I was a child the worst thing was hayfever.

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