This content was created by Holland and Barrett UAE
If you always feel tired, have been losing weight and are suffering with abdominal pain and/or diarrhoea, gluten could be the culprit.
So what is Gluten?
Gluten is a glue-like protein found in wheat, rye, oats and barley, It helps foods maintain their shape, acting to hold and bind Food products, such as bread, together. It is the main protein of wheat and related grains and there is more Gluten in our diets nowadays than ever before.
Because we’re eating more refined wheat products such as white bread and pasta, the amount of gluten we consume is increasing. But this protein may be harming your health.
Gluten Intolerance or Coeliac Disease
One in 100 people are now diagnosed with Coeliac Disease, which is much more common than previously thought. Thousands could have it and not even realise it.
Coeliac disease is an autoimmune condition. When sufferers eat gluten, the immune system overreacts and damages the finger-like protrusions in the small intestine called villi that help absorb nutrients. This can cause symptoms such as severe abdominal pain, weight loss, and fatigue.
Left untreated, coeliac disease can lead to serious health complications, including malnutrition and osteoporosis. But you don’t have to have coeliac disease to develop symptoms from eating gluten. People who have a gluten intolerance, or are sensitive to gluten, can experience problems including abdominal pain, diarrhoea, bloating, fatigue and headaches.
Time to Take Action
If you experience symptoms when eating foods that contain gluten, it’s important to first rule out coeliac disease. Ask your doctor for tests, including a blood test and a small bowel biopsy. Remember, you need to keep eating gluten during this time in order for the results to be accurate.
If your symptoms don’t improve and your tests don’t show any other problem, keep a food and symptoms diary for two weeks to pinpoint any foods that might be causing your symptoms. The only real way to see whether gluten is the culprit is to remove it from your diet for a short period of time (up to two weeks) and see if you notice any improvement.
If you decide to pursue a gluten-free diet, seek advice from your doctor or a dietician to make sure you’re still getting a healthy balance of nutrients from the foods you eat.
Find Gluten-Free Foods
A gluten-free diet doesn’t mean a diet devoid of taste or choice. Many foods are naturally gluten-free: fresh fruit and vegetables, grains like quinoa, meat, poultry, fish, cheese and eggs. Use these as the base for many of your meals.
Drinks such as fruit juice, flavoured water, and cordials are also free from gluten. And be sure to check out our tasty selection of gluten-free treats including granola and buckwheat crispbreads. Some gluten-free options may not be as high in fibre, iron, folic acid and B vitamins as their gluten-containing counterparts, so keep an eye on the nutritional values and make sure you take a multivitamin every day.
This article has been adapted from longer features appearing in Healthy, the Holland & Barrett magazine. Advice is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please check with your GP before trying any remedies
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