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Gluten and gut health

By Denise Elliot

Gluten is the substance that gives cakes and bread their elastic ‘stickability’. Without gluten, grain baking can crumble and not hold together so well.

Gluten is the protein component of the grain. It is present in wheat, rye, barley and oats. It is also present in spelt (an ancient wheat that provides more nutrients, fibre and protein), malt and beer.

Coeliac disease is an auto-immune condition, where the bowel has an immune reaction to gluten, and eventually the microvilli (hair-like protrusions that increase surface area for absorption) in the small intestine will be destroyed or flattened. If the microvilli cease to function poor absorption of nutrients will occur. This disease is checked with your doctor for specific anti-bodies. You have to continue to eat the foods prior to the testing for accuracy.

There are however, many people that are gluten intolerant, meaning they may not have full blown Coeliac disease, but have adverse symptoms when foods containing gluten are eaten.

Examples include excess bloating, wind, indigestion, skin conditions and lethargy. It can often be silly little symptoms, and there are of course many reasons for some of those issues, so do seek professional health care if necessary.

If any gastro-intestinal conditions are present do not hesitate in utilising a quality probiotic. Re-establishing and maintaining a healthy gut flora (the good bacteria in your gut) is always a prime choice for wellness.