Free from gluten

Coeliac disease - gluten intolerance

Coeliac disease is an "inflammatory" bowel disease and is triggered by the body's immune reaction to the gluten protein in gluten, which is present in many types of grain. Symptoms for such an immune reaction are very often expressed in abdominal pain, flatulence, diarrhea, but also in atypical symptoms (skin inflammations, joint complaints, mood swings), which can present themselves differently in each person. 

However, in addition to the short-term symptoms, this intolerance causes inflammation in the intestines, which can damage the intestines in the long term. If a person suffers from coeliac disease, this illness accompanies him or her throughout life. The following types of grain should be strictly avoided: 

  • wheat
  • rye               
  • barley
  • spelt
  • green spelt
  • triticale
  • unicorn               
  • Emmer Kamut
  • sometimes oats (does not cause symptoms in all sufferers)

As the composition of gluten can vary, other cereals or carbohydrate sources such as maize, (natural) rice, millet, amaranth, quinoa and buckwheat are tolerated. They are easy to digest and help to cover the carbohydrate requirements of gluten intolerant people. Legumes, soy, nuts and seeds also do not cause problems. The range of gluten-free cereal products is now very extensive and provides variety.

The diagnosis is made by a specialist in gastrointestinal medicine (the gastroenterologist), a pediatrician or a clinical immunologist by detecting antibodies against gluten and the body's own antigen tissue transglutaminase (TTG) in the blood.


What are gluten?

Gluten is a collective term for a mixture of proteins found in the seeds of some types of cereals.

The term glue is often used synonymously with gluten, but is defined as a mixture of proteins, lipids and carbohydrates that remains after the soluble components and starch have been washed out of a dough. When water is added to cereal flour, the gluten forms a rubbery and elastic mass from the flour when it rises, namely the dough. The glue contained in the dough is formed during rising by the irreversible formation of a three-dimensional structure of the proteins. The glue is of central importance for the baking properties of a flour.


Gluten is composed of the two Osborne fractions prolamins (soluble in a 70 per cent ethanol solution) and glutelins (soluble in alkali), which (unlike enzymes and other cytoplasmic proteins) are reserve proteins (storage proteins in the seed, root and shoot tubers). In wheat, they are called "gliadins" (prolamin fraction) and "glutenins" (glutelin fraction) and are subdivided into the subgroups "high-molecular-weight" gliadins and "low-molecular-weight" gliadins as well as "medium-molecular-weight" glutenins (ω1,2-gliadins) and "low-molecular-weight" glutenins (α- and β-gliadins). Prolamins and glutelins occur in wheat in a ratio of about 1:1 and represent the largest protein fraction in terms of quantity with about 80 %.

Where are gluten contained?

Cereals with a high gluten content are spelt (10.3 g/100 g flour type 630), wheat (9.8 g/100 g flour type 405), kamut, emmer, einkorn and durum wheat. Rye (secalinin, 3.2 g/100 g flour type 815), oats (avenin, 5.6 g / 100 g wholemeal flour) and barley (hordenin, 5.6 g/100 g whole hulled grain) have a lower proportion of gluten. Grains such as teff, millet, maize and rice as well as pseudo grains such as quinoa, amaranth and buckwheat are gluten-free. Gluten is a component of foods made from appropriate grains, and it forms the main ingredient in seitan, a meat substitute also sold as "wheat meat". Gluten-free flour is commercially available; however, it behaves differently from gluten-containing flour. The quantities for individual ingredients may therefore differ from classic recipe specifications. Baked goods without gluten often do not turn out as airy and moist as with conventional flour, because gluten also ensures good pore formation and a firm crumb during baking.

Further information: Wikipedia "Gluten"