Gluten Free FAQs
What is Gluten?
Gluten is a composite protein found in foods comprising of gliadin and glutenin. In its 'true form' gluten is specifically found in wheat but is also present in other cereals such as rye, barley and their crossbreeds.
What are Gluten Free Foods?
Gluten free foods have been specifically created to allow people who are intolerant or allergic to gluten to maintain a healthy varied diet and eat the types of food they may normally be excluded from such as pasta and bread.
Who needs to eat Gluten Free Foods?
The main group of people who should avoid gluten are sufferers of Coeliac disease. Coeliac describes a genetic auto-immune reaction to gluten which, if ingested, will cause the body to attack itself, resulting in damage to the intestines.
Some people may also suffer with wheat intolerance, this is similar to coeliac disease but differs in that a coeliac sufferer will undergo an immediate reaction to gluten whilst someone who is wheat intolerant will generally undergo a delayed or gradual reaction.
This is a rarer group of people who can be outright allergic to wheat, which if eaten, may lead to more dramatic, even life threatening reactions, unlike coeliac disease and wheat intolerance, doctors are able to test for wheat allergy by means of a skin prick test.
How will I know if I need to avoid Gluten/Wheat?
Symptoms of coeliac disease and wheat intolerance are very similar but can be diverse and vary from person to person. The broad symptoms you might encounter are also very similar to gastric conditions such as IBS, it is a good idea to exclude wheat from your diet to see if this has a positive affect on the symptoms you experience, this will help diagnosis.
Symptoms include diarrhoea, constipation, bloating, vomiting, sudden weight loss, hair loss, anaemia and osteoporosis. In rare cases sufferers may also experience eczema-like symptoms. If expect you have any of the gluten/wheat intolerant conditions you should consult your doctor.
What should I do if I'm diagnosed with Gluten/Wheat Intolerance
The only known treatment for any of the gluten/wheat intolerant conditions is to exclude gluten/wheat entirely from the diet. In modern processed foods gluten is commonly present in foods you may not expect it to be in. You should always avoid food and drink containing the following grains:
Barley (malt, malt flavoring and malt vinegar are usually made from barley), Rye, Triticale (a cross between wheat and rye, Wheat
You should also be aware that gluten can be found in these grains not normally associated with wheat:
Bulgur, Durum flour, Farina, Graham flour, Kamut, Semolina and Spelt
Unless marked as 'Gluten Free' you should also avoid the following foods:
Beer, Breads, Cakes and pies, Candies, Cereals, Cookies and crackers, Croutons, French fries, Gravies, Imitation meat or seafood, Matzo, Pastas, Processed luncheon meats, Salad dressings, Sauces, including soy sauce, Seasoned rice mixes, Seasoned snack foods, such as potato and tortilla chips, Self-basting poultry, Soups and soup bases, Vegetables in sauce
Many doctors and dietitians also recommend to avoid oats, this is because oats can often become contaminated with gluten during the refining process; be sure to only eat oat products marked as 'Gluten Free'
You should also be aware of other sources of gluten that you may come into contact with such as:
Food additives, such as malt flavouring, modified food starch and others, Medications and vitamins that use gluten as a binding agent, Play dough
It's a good idea to be extra vigilant when shopping for food and check all labelling to ensure you are getting a genuine gluten/wheat free product. It's also important to note that some products marked as gluten free may not also be wheat free; again in these instances always check the food labelling.
If you prepare both wheat based foods and gluten/wheat free foods in the home it's important to be extra careful to avoid cross-contamination, make sure all utensils and surfaces are thoroughly cleaned before preparing gluten/wheat free foods.
What can I eat if I have Gluten/Wheat Intolerance
Whilst it seems a massive challenge to overcome, there are many foods that are free from gluten. Coeliac and wheat intolerant people can and do maintain healthy varied diets. In addition to our extensive range of gluten free foods you can eat:
Beans, seeds, nuts in their natural, unprocessed form, Fresh eggs, Fresh meats, fish and poultry (not breaded, batter-coated or marinated), Fruits and vegetables, Most dairy products
There's also no reason at all that you should be excluded from wheat based products that people commonly eat the following grains can be used in place of wheat to make those eveyday things you're likely to miss out on:
Amaranth, Arrowroot, Buckwheat, Corn and cornmeal, Flax, Gluten-free flours (rice, soy, corn, potato, bean), Hominy (corn), Millet, Quinoa, Rice, Sorghum, Soy, Tapioca, Teff
People who follow gluten/wheat free diets should note that they may also miss vital minerals and vitamins present in enriched foods containing gluten. If you require a gluten/wheat free diet it is a good idea to consult a dietitian to identify which nutrients you may be missing. The commonest dietary nutrients that may be excluded by eating a gluten/wheat free diet include:
Iron, Calcium, Fibre, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Folate
If you are deficient in any minerals and vitamins in your diet you can substitute them by taking dietary supplements
What happens if I accidentally eat Gluten/Wheat?
This will vary largely depending on your particular condition, its severity and the amount of gluten/wheat ingested. In the vast majority of cases however at worst you are most likely to experience a recurrence of the symptoms highlighted above. Many may also notice no apparent effects, though this will not mean that there hasn't been a negative effect on your body. In all cases vigilance, caution and overall awareness of what you are eating are most highly advised.
In the event that you suspect you have a dietary intolerance, it's always best to consult your doctor or dietitian. For more detail about the gluten free products we sell please visit our gluten free food or contact out sales team.