Do you experience unpleasant symptoms such as bloating, vomiting or diarrhea 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 and what to do if this sounds like you! To find out how, we interviewed Ellie Thompson, accredited practicing dietitian from Verde Nutrition Co. to find out more about how we can do exactly that. Keep reading for more on this topic and information from our experts below!
What Is the Difference Between Coeliac Disease and Non-Coeliac Gluten Sensitivity?
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 lining of the small intestine. Over the long term this can affect your ability to absorb essential nutrients such as iron and calcium. Undiagnosed coeliac disease can cause low bone density, infertility, 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 minimize intestinal damage and prevent long term complications. Even the smallest trace of gluten can cause damage. Therefore, it is important to minimize cross-contamination when preparing meals and read food labels to look for any hidden gluten. This ensures you are only consuming products that are completely gluten free. Have you ever met someone with a gluten allergy?
Coeliac disease vs non-coeliac gluten sensitivity
Unlike coeliac disease, non-coeliac gluten sensitivity does not involve the immune system or cause any intestinal damage. Non-coeliac gluten sensitivity is used to describe a condition where people are unable to tolerate gluten. This can then result in unpleasant symptoms, including IBS-like symptoms such as bloating, wind and diarrhea, as well as systemic symptoms like tiredness, headaches, and muscle pain. The cause of these symptoms is not well understood, however research indicates it may not be gluten that is the cause. Some gluten containing foods such as wheat, barley and rye are actually high in FODMAPs, specifically wheat fructans. If you find that eliminating gluten relieves your symptoms, it could also be because you are also reducing your intake of high FODMAP foods. 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 intolerance. This is because 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 diarrhea after eating. It is important to keep this in mind if you find cutting out gluten improves your symptoms. It is recommended that you discuss your concerns with your GP and/or a dietitian and get tested for coeliac disease prior to eliminating gluten from your diet. 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 the appropriate testing and diagnosis by your doctor do we recommend the complete elimination of gluten from your diet under the guidance of a dietitian. What’s your experience been on a gluten-free diet, if you’ve had one? Have you felt it made you feel better or made absolutely no difference at all? Whatever your experience has been, consult with a dietician before you commit to a gluten-free diet and completely eliminate gluten from your current diet. What’s your favorite way to eat gluten-free?
Meet our Expert:
Verde Nutrition Co provides telehealth nutrition servicing, so you can access the best dietitian for you, from the comfort of your home. Having access to a dietitian who has expertise in your individual area of need should be an easy, stress free process – and not have barriers of geographic location or time stopping you from seeing the best dietitian for you.
Verde’s team of online dietitians are some of the best in the country, and are available for you to see via telehealth – so you don’t need to leave the comfort of your home or office, worry about traffic or parking fines, or spend your hard earned dollars seeing someone who does not have the level of expertise you need.