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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    What is gluten?

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  • Lisa Renn

    Dietitian

    Lisa is an APD with 12 years experience, specialising in helping people identify and change habits that impact negatively on their health. Inspiring change, Lisa … View Profile

    Gluten is a protein associated with wheat, barley and rye (oats by cross contamination). For some people gluten creates an autoimmune response in the body which leads to the destruction of the villi(absorptive surfaces) in the small intestine- as such it is very difficult to absorb nutrients from the food and may also be accompanied by pain and altered bowel habits = coeliac disease. Those who are diagnosed with coeliac disease need to avoid all traces of gluten for life, by doing so the villi can regenerate and the individual can absorb nutrients once again.Coeliac disease diagnosis must be confirmed using a small bowel biopsy.
    There are some people who cannot tolerate wheat and/or gluten but who don't have coeliac disease and the sypmtoms will be described as irritable bowel syndrome or fructose malabsorption. An Accredited Practising Dietitian can help with a low FODMAP diet that will generally isolate those foods that trigger gastrointestinal upsets and reduce symptoms significantly.
    There are no health benefits to avoiding gluten if you have no evidence of coeliac disease and eating wheat does not cause discomfort. Wheat, barley, rye and oats are very healthy grains to include in your diet.
    Good Luck!

  • Ashleigh is an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD, AN) and registered with the Dietitian's Association of Australia with experience in both clinical and private practice. Ashleigh's … View Profile

    Gluten is the protein found in wheat, rye, barley, oats, and triticale (a cross between wheat and rye). It is present in the following:

    1. Bread, biscuits, cakes, pastries, pies, cereals, pastas and flour.
    2. Manufactured foods - including foods with sauces, foods with thickening agents, sausages, foods coated in flour batter or crumbs.
    3. Unexpected sources -such as medications, Playdough, beer, baking powder

    Gluten damages the lining of the small bowel in people with coeliac disease and dermatitis herpetiformis. The treatment for these conditions is lifelong exclusion of gluten from the diet. All foods and medications need to be gluten free. Foods and medications which are ‘low gluten’ should not be included in your diet.

    If you have any further questions, please seek advice from an Accredited Practising Dietitian.

    Ashleigh

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