To gluten or not to gluten?
… that is the question.
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With increasing diet awareness among our society coupled with countless “health” influencers sharing a number of mixed messages it has become difficult to decipher the Morse code of nutrition and healthcare. Somewhere along the way, gluten has been thrown off the health bandwagon due to its apparent inflammatory properties. Thus, the gluten free diet has become increasingly popular in recent times.
The truth is, inflammation is an immune response that occurs when our body is trying to protect us from something. Gluten itself is not an inflammatory food and there is no evidence to suggest that consuming gluten causes inflammation unless you have an autoimmune condition such as Coeliac disease. People with Coeliac disease have an abnormal reaction to gluten which causes the inflammation. It is possible to be sensitive to gluten and experience abdominal symptoms without having Coeliac disease and the associated bowel damage.
If you suspect gluten sensitivity, it is vital that you get tested for Coeliac disease by requesting a test from your GP. It is important to distinguish between Coeliac disease and gluten or wheat intolerance because the dietary management of these conditions is different. Coeliac disease requires a strict lifelong gluten free diet to avoid bowel damage, long term nutrient deficiencies and more serious conditions such as osteoporosis. Gluten intolerance however, does not require complete avoidance of all gluten containing products. Instead it is managed by identifying and limiting the consumption of foods that cause symptoms without being unnecessarily restrictive.