Frequently Asked Questions

Gluten is a mixture of proteins found in wheat and related grains and cereals.These include barley,rye and kamut. Gluten gives elasticity to dough, helping it rise and keep its shape when baked. Not all grains contain gluten. Some examples are sorghum, millet, rice, buckwheat, quinoa, corn (polenta) and teff. Oats are also gluten-free, but can be contaminated during processing.

Coeliac disease is not a food allergy or a food intolerance. It is an autoimmune disease caused by a reaction to gluten. When someone with coeliac disease eats gluten, their immune system reacts by damaging the lining of the small intestine. People with coeliac disease make antibodies against gluten. Antibodies are proteins in the immune system that normally attack, viruses, bacteria and germs. What happens is the small intestine mistakes gluten to be harmful and reacts against it as if it were fighting off a germ or virus causing inflammation. The inflammation then stops nutrients being absorbed properly. Coeliac disease affects about 1 in 100 people in the UK however according to Coeliac UK only 24% who have the condition have been diagnosed which means there are currently nearly half a million people who have coeliac disease but don’t yet know.

Symptoms range from mild to severe.Poor absorption of nutrients can cause deficiencies of vitamins, iron and other nutrients. Anaemia is common. Other symptoms include bloating, diarrhoea, nausea, wind, constipation, tiredness, mouth ulcers, sudden or unexpected weight loss, hair loss, mood swings, depression and brain fog. Dermatitis herpetiformis (DH) is the skin manifestation of coeliac disease this occurs as a rash normally on the elbows, knees, shoulders, buttocks and face, with red, raised patches often with blisters this is very itchy and sore.

If a first degree family member (such as mother, father, sister or brother) has the condition then the chances of having it increase from 1 in 100 to one in 10.

Gluten often is found in unexpected products, such as medications and mouthwash. Check with your doctor or pharmacist about whether any medications you’re taking contain gluten.

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