First – What exactly is Gluten?
Gluten is a protein found in all forms of wheat (durum, semolina, spelt), rye, barley and oats, as well as combination grains like triticale and Kamut. Domestication of wheat led to changes in grain size, shape and range of phenotypic variation, and now today, up to 90% of the protein in wheat is gluten; a 10-fold increase in the past 100 years.
Why can gluten be detrimental to our health?
In gluten-sensitive people, exposure to gliadins may result in an immune reaction and symptoms of intolerance, such as headaches, abdominal complaints, diarrhoea and joint complaints.
While 1.4% of Australians are affected by coeliac disease and have an immune reaction to gluten, figures show 7-20% of the population are gluten sensitive.
- Coeliac Disease (CD) is where the body attacks the gut lining which results in permanent intestinal intolerance to gluten.
- Non-Coeliac Gluten sensitivity is an intolerance to the wheat grain which leads to increased inflammation in the body.
The discovery of zonulin:
Zonulin a protein that in humans increases intestinal permeability (leaky gut) which can trigger all sorts of immune responses, some susceptible individuals lead to autoimmune diseases. The two most powerful triggers identify to stimulate zonulin release in the gut are small intestinal exposure to bacteria and gluten.
Do I need to completely avoid gluten?
Because gluten is so readily available in many commercially produced products, it makes it extremely difficult to avoid it completely. But, generally speaking, if you do suffer from any life interfering symptoms, whether this being gut issues, fatigue, skin or inflammatory conditions, it is best to avoid gluten or at least minimise it and then reintroduce small amounts when symptoms or concerns are rectified.
Some foods sources containing gluten:
(Grains) wheat, rye, barley, durum, semolina, triticale, bulgur, couscous, spelt, Kamut.
(Roots and Tubers) French fries, battered potato.
(Legumes) baked beans unless gluten-free.
(Flours) wheat, wholemeal, semolina, barley, rye, battered food
(Bread) white, wholemeal, rye, pumpernickel, wraps, burritos etc
(Cereal) Weet-Bix, bran, oats, coco pops, cereals containing malt, Nutrigrain etc
(Pasta) most Italian style pasta, Hokkien noodles, egg noodles
(Crackers) wheat biscuits e.g., Savoy, Ryvita
For a more comprehensive gluten-free diet and alternative food sources, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Carey K. “Gluten-free” booming despite misconception of health implications. Australian Food News 2012, ausfoodnews.com. au/2012/10/29/%E2%80%9Cgluten-free%E2%80%9D-booming-despite-misconception-of-health-implications.html
Coeliac disease. Coeliac Australia 2014. Viewed 12 Nov 2014, www.coeliac.org.au/coeliac-disease/
Elliot K. Going gluten free. Australia’s Reader’s Digest 2014. Viewed 12 Nov 2014, www.readersdigest.com.au/gluten-free
Elsey L. The gluten free conundrum. Food Australia 2013, foodaust.com.au/the-gluten-free-conundrum/
Kok MS, Gillis R, Ang S, et al. Can dietary fibre help provide safer food products for sufferers of gluten intolerance? A well established biophysical probe may help towards providing an answer. BMC Biophysics 2012;5:10.