Gluten intolerance

12. November 2021

What is meant by this?

What is meant by this?

Lactose, fructose and histamine intolerances are common and cause discomfort, as we have described in previous blog posts. But there are other intolerances that can have extremely unpleasant consequences.

Gluten intolerance – Coeliac disease

“Coeliac disease is an inflammatory bowel disease. It is triggered by a misdirected immune reaction to the adhesive protein gluten.” (Netdoktor) But what exactly is gluten? Gluten is a complex mixture of water-insoluble proteins found in cereal grains. Wikipedia provides the following explanation:“In combination with water, gluten forms what is known as an adhesive protein. This forms the dough structure for bread and pastries. Bread in the form of loaves (in contrast to flatbreads) can only be baked from flours containing gluten. The amount of gluten in wheat flours plays a decisive role in their baking properties (“gas retention capacity”).

Gluten is elastic and ensures that the gas from fermentation (carbon dioxide) is retained in the wheat dough during proving, thus allowing the baked goods to rise. In finished baked goods, the structure of the gluten strands ensures that they keep their shape…

If cereals containing gluten are used as an (intentional) ingredient, within the EU this must be specified on the label in accordance with the Food Information Regulations.”

Labelling is poor in the EU

Wikipedia states, “There is no regulation in Germany or the EU for the labelling of (unintentional) traces of gluten, for example through contamination in the cultivation or production process, which is why we cannot draw conclusions from the lack of trace identification alone”.

“The designation “gluten free” may be given to foodstuffs with a maximum gluten content of 20 mg/kg; this term therefore merely stipulates the maximum permitted amount of gluten, but does not ensure that the product is truly gluten free.”

Gluten is most commonly found in cereals. Cereals containing gluten include wheat, rye, barley, green spelt, spelt, emmer, einkorn wheat, triticale and kamut. Sufferers of gluten intolerance must also avoid the flours made from these cereals, as well as semolina, starch, oat flakes, muesli, breadcrumbs, pasta and beer. Spelt and spelt flours contain the most gluten, followed by wheat and wheat flours. White spelt flour contains 10,300 mg gluten per 100 g flour, while white wheat flour contains 8,660 mg per 100 g. Chocolate can also contain gluten. Chocolate with biscuit crumbs always contains gluten. The same goes for cakes, cookies, and waffles.

Gluten-free alternatives

However, there are also gluten-free flour alternatives. These include amaranth flour, brown rice flour, buckwheat flour, chia flour, tiger nut flour, pure oat flour, hemp flour, and millet flour. Some types of grain, such as corn or millet, are also gluten-free. Amaranth, rice, buckwheat or quinoa are considered pseudo-grains. They are very rich in vitamins and minerals, and in the kitchen they can be used in a similar way to cereals to make bread, rolls, cakes or pasta.

Quinoa is a very good source of high quality vegetable protein, and amaranth exceeds the nutritional value of most other grains. Amaranth is also rich in calcium, iron and magnesium. The carbohydrate content of amaranth is also much lower than that of true grains, and it contains valuable fatty acids, plenty of fibre and proteins.

You can also bake gluten-free rolls or bread using linseed flour or hemp flour, while coconut flour and almond flour are suitable for cakes and sweet pastries. And you can use chestnut flour to make your own pasta or bake gluten-free chestnut bread.

Gluten-free products

Products suitable for a gluten-free diet include fruit and vegetables, potatoes, legumes, natural yoghurt, buttermilk, butter, vegetable oils, meat, fish, eggs, cheeses such as Emmental, Gouda, Edam, Tilsiter, Parmesan, natural cream cheese, mozzarella and feta in brine.

Worrying symptoms

The most common symptoms of gluten intolerance are diarrhoea, gas, nausea, and vomiting. But there are also numerous other symptoms such as loss of appetite, weight loss, intestinal bleeding, listlessness, fatigue, bone and muscle pain and muscle weakness.

The website www.internisten-im-netz.de states: “The exact causes that lead to gluten intolerance are still unknown. However, it is probably a combination of genetic predisposition and external environmental influences that trigger coeliac disease“.

Diagnosis and treatment

“To diagnose coeliac disease, specialists use a blood test in combination with a biopsy of the small intestine, from which a tissue sample is taken. Testing the patient’s blood for the antibodies transglutaminase, endomysium and gliadin gives the first important indication of coeliac disease. The diagnosis is confirmed through a biopsy of the small intestine”, write the experts at the German Coeliac Society (DZG) in Stuttgart.

For coeliacs, even the smallest amounts of gluten can lead to inflammation. “There is no medication for coeliac disease. The only treatment is a lifelong, strictly gluten-free diet. This is the only way the mucous membrane of the small intestine can regenerate and ensure the normal absorption of nutrients”, says the DZG.

Stay healthy and watch what you eat!

This articles deals with a health topic. It should not be used for self-diagnosis, and is no substitute for diagnosis by a doctor.

Sources:

Deutsche Zöliakie-Gesellschaft e.V. (DZG)

Netdoktor

www.internisten-im-netz.de

Wikipedia