What is gluten?
A number of toxic fractions have been identified in coeliac diseaseA condition where a person is unable to eat gluten as it makes their body attack itself.
. 'Gluten' is a generic term used for the protein found in wheat, barley and rye.
The specific proteins are called:
- gliadins in wheat
- secalins in rye
- hordeins in barley.
Oats contain similar proteins called aveninsA protein in oats that is similar to gluten. Pure, uncontaminated oats are now accepted as being safe for most people with coeliac disease.
The aims of the gluten-free diet
Treatment of coeliac disease requires complete exclusion of gluten from the diet.
The diet must ensure that people with coeliac disease:
- exclude all dietary sources of gluten
- know which foods and ingredients are naturally free fromA range of food that is free from certain allergens - for example gluten or dairy.
- substitute food and ingredients that contain gluten with gluten-free alternatives to improve nutritional adequacy and compliance to the diet
- consume a balanced diet which helps maintain health; and, prevent or manage associated diseases, particularly osteoporosisA condition where your bones lose bone mass and become brittle.
Following a gluten-free diet may sound very straight forward, but it may not be as easy as it first seems. There are many factors that are important to take into consideration when managing patients with coeliac disease. These include contamination, barely malt extract, Codex wheat starch, oats and the new food labelling legislation.
Find out more on how to help your patients follow a gluten-free diet by reading on.