Gluten- Not Always The Villain

During Coeliac Awareness Week 13-20th March 2017

Gluten gets a pretty bad rap these days and with all the gluten free products available, many of us reach for the GF option thinking we are doing our kids a favour. But are we?

This week is coeliac awareness week so I am taking the opportunity to set the record straight for my poor little friend gluten.

Gluten refers to proteins found in wheat, barley, rye and in Australia oats and is therefore found in almost every aisle of the supermarket. Many people think Coeliac disease is an allergic reaction to gluten but in fact it is an autoimmune disease, that produces an autoimmune response to its enemy that is gluten. When a coeliac consumes gluten, the body produces antibodies to attack it, in turn these antibodies lead to damage of the small intestine lining which leads to malabsorption.

If your child is suffering from coeliac disease, they would most likely have abdominal symptoms after eating gluten and some will also have skin conditions. To properly diagnose the condition, a blood test followed by an endoscopy is required and only then should you remove gluten from the child’s diet. Doing so before the tests can produce a false negative blood result.

There are also wheat allergies that are different from coeliac disease and this can be diagnosed with a skin or blood test. The symptoms are similar but a severe wheat allergy can result in anaphylaxis.

So obviously in these two circumstances avoiding wheat and gluten is essential to your child’s health. In all other cases, there is little evidence to support avoiding gluten, in fact, some research suggests gluten avoidance neglects the body of valuable vitamins, nutrients and minerals essential for child’s health and development.

I hope this clarifies a few points around celiac disease during coeliac awareness week.