Do you experience bloating, vomiting or diarrhoea after consuming gluten containing products such as bread and pasta? This could be due to a gluten sensitivity, or an auto-immune condition called coeliac disease. In fact, these are two different conditions, which require different dietary management. Want to know more? Read on to find out about how they differ!
What is coeliac disease?
Coeliac disease is an autoimmune condition where the body’s immune system reacts to a protein called gluten (found in wheat, rye and barley). This immune response causes damage to the small intestine. Over the long term this can affect your ability to absorb nutrients such as iron and calcium. Undiagnosed coeliac disease can cause low bone density and low iron due to poor absorption, as well as chronic inflammation.
There is currently no cure for coeliac disease. But luckily, if you follow a strict gluten free diet you can minimise intestinal damage and prevent long term complications. Even the smallest trace of gluten can cause damage. Therefore, it is important to minimise cross-contamination with gluten containing foods when preparing meals. It is also essential to read food labels and look for any hidden gluten. This ensures you are only consuming products that are completely gluten free.
Coeliac disease vs gluten sensitivity
Unlike coeliac disease, gluten sensitivity does not involve the immune system or any intestinal damage. Gluten sensitivity is used to describe a condition where people are unable to tolerate gluten. This can then result in unpleasant symptoms, such as diarrhoea, bloating and wind.
Some gluten containing foods such as wheat, barely and rye are actually high in FODMAPS. If you find that eliminating gluten relieves your symptoms, it could also be due to the fact that you are reducing your intake of high FODMAP foods. Similarly, often individuals mistake a wheat fructan intolerance for a gluten intolerance. This is because wheat fructans are found in products containing gluten. If you find you tolerate traditional or spelt sourdough bread rather than regular bread, then it is more likely a wheat fructan intolerance than gluten as sourdough is lower in wheat fructans but still high in gluten.
Why does it matter to you?
Often the symptoms of coeliac disease can present in a similar way to IBS with bloating, vomiting and/or diarrhoea after eating. It is important to keep this in mind if you find a low FODMAP diet is not effective in managing your symptoms,. It might be a good idea to discuss your issues with your GP and/or a dietitian and we always recommend being tested for coeliac disease prior to starting a low FODMAP diet to rule this out first.
Just because your symptoms resolve after eliminating gluten from your diet, it does not mean that you have coeliac disease or need to exclude gluten all together. Only after appropriate testing and diagnosis by your doctor do we recommend the complete elimination of gluten from your diet.
Whether you have coeliac disease or a gluten sensitivity, we have a range of recipes for you to try! Why not test out our Salmon risotto with fennel and carrot or Spaghetti Bolognese? And if your looking to do some baking, we even have a recipe for an all purpose low FODMAP and gluten free flour!
Please note: If you have been diagnosed with coeliac disease, it is important to get professional advice and follow a strict gluten free diet. We recommend seeing a dietitian for guidance to manage your symptoms and diet.
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