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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    What health conditions recommend a gluten-free diet?

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  • Nyema Hermiston

    Homeopath, Naturopath, Registered Nurse

    Nyema has been in ‘general practice’ treating adults and children for acute and chronic illnesses for over 20 years. She is Vice President of The ... View Profile

    The main, and essential treatment for coeliac disease is a strict gluten free diet, which can relieve a wide variety of symptoms, which may not necessarily be digestive.
    However, for reasons that are not clear, many other people benefit from a gluten free diet. without a diagnosis of Coeliac disease. These are patients with conditions like allergies, irritable bowel syndrome, autism and learning disorders. In long term conditions that have been unresponsive to normal treatment, often have untreated underlying food sensitivity, which may not actually be an allergy. Gluten sensitivity can be identified via a blood test or a skin scratch test. However, simply eliminating gluten for a few weeks can often tell the tale - after years of treatments not helping, symptoms can start to improve. It is non- invasive, free and will give you some idea if gluten is affecting you. 
    In autistic children, a gluten free diet can help enormously with concentration, temper tantrums and general health. In some children it can be a ‘night and day’ type response. I have seen this many times in my clinic. I have also seen gluten free diets bring relief to Irritable Bowel Syndrome and life long allergies, within a few days.
    For an as yet unknown reason, along with dairy products and eggs, more people are becoming sensitive to gluten.

  • 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

    A strict gluten free diet is only indicated for those diagnosed with coeliac disease or dermatitis herpetiformis. 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.

    Gluten damages the lining of the small bowel in people with coeliac disease and dermatitis herpetiformis. The treatment for these conditions is to exclude gluten from the diet. Once you have found out that you have Coeliac Disease or Dermatitis Herpetiformis, a gluten free diet will need to be followed for life. All foods and medications need to be gluten free. Foods and medications which are ‘low gluten’ should not be included in your diet.

    To be diagnosed with coeliac disease, you actually must be consuming gluten containing products for at least 8 weeks prior to testing, otherwise you may receive a false-negative result. A gluten free diet is not recommended for people who do not have coeliac disease or dermatitis herpretiformis as it actually excludes wholefoods and key nutrient sources from your diet unnecessarily.

    If you think you may benefit from a gluten free diet, please seek advice from your doctor or Dietitian.

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