Health matters – Diet foods Gluten – free diet – the facts

Health matters  – Diet foods  Gluten – free diet – the facts

The facts  by Dr Radha

It was recently reported that, in the US, one in four people now opt for gluten-free foods and the UK is not far behind.

Those claiming wheat or gluten intolerance frequently cite headaches, bloating, cramps or weight gain as unwanted side-effects and some, like Miley Cyrus, go as far as calling it ‘poison’.

  • First, it is important to note the difference between wheat and gluten: while gluten is a protein found in wheat, it is also present in other grains such as barley and rye, so those with an allergy or intolerance to it must avoid all of these; people with a wheat intolerance or allergy, however, may be able to eat other grains without side-effects.
  • Secondly, allergies and intolerances are not the same thing.

“We often use the terms allergy and intolerance interchangeably,” says Dr Radha. “In fact, only a tiny percentage of the population has a food allergy. Food intolerance is far more common.”Dr Radhaimmune system,we
While Allergy UK reports that up to 45% of people in the UK suffer from food intolerance, only 2% of the population have been diagnosed as having a food allergy.

Allergy symptoms are dramatic, brought on by rapid response by the immune system.

Most people who don’t eat wheat or gluten will be talking about an intolerance, something that can cause digestive disturbances, skin problems and sometimes migraines.

With regards to gluten, a more serious condition affects some people. “Coeliac disease is not an intolerance or an allergy to gluten but a disease which causes the body’s immune system to mistake gluten as a damaging substance and attack it,” explains Dr Radha. “This results in damage to the structure of the small bowel which affects how nutrients are absorbed and causes symptoms such as diarrhoea, vomiting, weight loss and muscle spasms.”

As yet, there is no fail-proof diagnostic test for wheat or gluten intolerance.

Most diagnosis will be done by excluding certain foods from the diet and registering changes in symptoms.

Problems exist with this sort of diagnosis, as more serious conditions – such as coeliac disease – will not be picked up. Also, studies have suggested that there is a strong placebo effect at work when people choose to cut foods from their diet.

At the end of last year, the British Medical Journal warned against self-diagnosis of wheat intolerance, claiming that this could lead to dietary deficiencies and suggesting that the gluten-free food industry has a strong interest in encouraging more people to define themselves as gluten intolerant.

However, the fact remains that many people report feeling better when they cut wheat or gluten from their diet.

If this affects you

“If you feel you may have symptoms of an intolerance after you eat gluten, see your GP,” says Dr Radha. “They can examine you and request some blood tests which may help rule out coeliac disease.

However, bear in mind that blood tests are not always 100% sensitive in picking up coeliac and a specialist referral may be made so that a sample of the small intestine can be taken and tested.”

Once coeliac disease has been ruled out, controlling symptoms of an intolerance involves managing your diet.

In the case of gluten intolerance, remember that this protein is found not only in wheat but also in barley and rye, meaning that standard breads, pastas, biscuits and breakfast cereals will be out of bounds.

“If, after seeing a doctor, you do decide to cut out certain gluten-containing foods because of an intolerance, make sure you get other sources of fibre and carbohydrate in your diet,” says Dr Radha.

For those without a genuine allergy or intolerance, gluten is not the enemy and, in fact, contains important nutrients.

A study carried out in Spain found that healthy adults who went without gluten for a month had a dramatic loss of protective gut bacteria and immunity-boosting chemicals.

The verdict

“Be sure that you really are intolerant before you jump on the wheat- or gluten-free bandwagon,” says Dr Radha. “Miley Cyrus’s flat stomach is probably more to do with low calorie intake and exercise than not eating gluten. While it is possible to eat a healthy, gluten-free diet – provided you get your fibre and carbs elsewhere – you could be making life unnecessarily difficult for yourself, spending money on expensive gluten-free products and missing out on lots of yummy cake!”


If you do decide to cut out gluten from your diet, make sure that you  address a balance in your eating plans.

If you fancy a snack, but are a mindful  eater –  a gluten free option is a FitChoice shake !

Life can be busy sometimes and you cannot always find time for a proper meal if you are on the move or simply running out of time.

Sometimes you might also be feeling peckish and find yourself reaching for a snack which may not be as healthy as you would like.

A FitChoice protein shake offers a convenient option to supplement your daily diet.

If you would  like to know more about FitChoice, then go to  , click on the FitChoice logo, select language and follow the easy steps.

Alternatively you could message me at and I will answer any questions you may have.

I enjoy FitChoice, and it has helped me in my sustained path to successful weight management.

Author:Maggie Pascoe (G+)

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About Maggie Pascoe

By helping enough people achieve what they want to achieve, you will achieve your goals !l My aim is to help people get what they want in life, to improve their health & life & have the same satisfaction by helping others.

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