Gluten is the name given to the proteins naturally found in wheat, rye and barley. It plays an important role in bread-making because when flour is mixed with water, gluten forms a network which traps the bubbles of gas (carbon dioxide) which form during yeast fermentation. This is what gives bread its light and airy structure. When gluten-free flour is used to make bread the dough is softer and more difficult to handle as the gluten network is missing.
Gluten is found in foods made with cereal flours such as bread, pasta, breakfast cereals, cakes and biscuits. It can also be found where you might not expect it e.g. soups and sauces (where small amounts of flour can be used for thickening), sausages and burgers (these may have breadcrumbs in the recipe), as well as ready meals.
Prepackaged foods will always highlight the allergens in the ingredients list.
If you have been diagnosed with coeliac disease it is important that you cut all sources of gluten from your diet. Foods that are wheat free are not necessarily gluten-free, and vice versa, so check that you are selecting the right foods for your condition.
Of course, you still want to continue to eat a healthy diet. Gluten and wheat free foods may exclude these allergens, but they are not necessarily designed to help you achieve weight loss.
The following tips should help you to follow a healthy, balanced and gluten-free diet.
Coeliac disease is a serious autoimmune condition where the immune system reacts to the presence of gluten in the diet. This is not the same as an allergy or an intolerance to gluten.
The immune system’s reaction damages the surface of the small intestine, disrupting the body’s ability to absorb nutrients. It is not clear what causes the immune system to react this way, although genetic make up and environmental factors appear to play a part.
There are a number of symptoms associated with coeliac disease, but not everyone reacts the same way so it is important to check with your GP.
The most common symptom is diarrhoea because the body is not able to fully absorb nutrients, but other common symptoms include:
If you are suffering from any combination of these symptoms, visit your GP for a proper diagnosis. If you are found to have coeliac disease then you should be referred to a dietician. If not, be sure to ask your GP for a referral. A dietician can give you advice on how to follow a gluten-free diet, while making sure you still meet your nutritional needs.
Coeliac disease and gluten intolerance are not the only reasons you might consider avoiding wheat and gluten.
Try our delicious Soya & Linseed
High in fibre, calcium and Omega 3Discover this product