Gluten, gluten everywhere…


Unless you’ve been living in a cardboard box (under the stairs, with no internet and limited access to fresh air), chances are you’ve heard the term gluten-free bandied about.

Gluten is a protein found in a range of foodstuffs that causes major health issues for some people. In particular, gluten is problematic for people with coeliac disease and gluten sensitivity.

You’ll find gluten lurking in barley, rye, oats and wheat. It’s in a lot of processed foods, breads, cakes, energy drinks, sauces and other yummy treats. You’ll even find gluten in some medications.

While oats are theoretically gluten-free, they are often contaminated by other gluten-containing grains. Even gluten-free oats can be a problem for some people as avenin (the protein in oats) can react in a similar way to gluten.

Contrary to the belief of some, gluten-free isn’t a fad. For many people, being gluten-free is the difference between leading a normal, healthy life and suffering immense pain.


Ever wondered what gluten looks like?

glutenThis is gluten, and despite what you might expect, it doesn’t have horns. It’s super elastic, which is why foods containing gluten are often lighter and springier than their gluten-free counterparts.





One of the problems for those of us with gluten issues is that the symptoms of coeliac disease (and other gluten-related disorders) are vast, and not all of them are stomach related. This makes diagnosis difficult, and often gluten disorders go undiagnosed for years.

Some of the signs of a gluten disorder include: psoriasis, eczema, stomach pain, diarrhoea, constipation, fatigue, failure to thrive (in children), joint pain, reflux, asthma, urinary infections, brain fog, anxiety, depression, body aches and more.

Diagnosis of coeliac disease is relatively straight-forward: a blood test and a bowel biopsy will normally give you a result. However, if you’re gluten intolerant, diagnosis is really tricky because there’s no standardised test for non-coeliac gluten sensitivity.

Does that mean that there’s no such thing as gluten sensitivity? No way Jose!

Gluten sensitivity is a real condition, and is increasingly being recognised by the medical fraternity (just have a browse through medical journals). There are still some naysayers out there, but they are starting to become a minority.

So what do you do if you think you have a problem with gluten?

Keep eating it.

Sounds crazy right? But it’s not. The catch with coeliac screening is that you must be eating a decent amount of gluten for the test to show an accurate result. If you aren’t eating gluten, you could show a false negative.

If you suspect gluten-issues, it’s a good idea to be checked for coeliac disease, because if you are diagnosed, you could be eligible for disability funding from the government. Diagnosis of coeliac disease also makes it easier when you’re dealing with naysayers.

If you test negative for coeliac disease, there are a range of options to choose from: RAST testing, elimination diets and AGA-IgG blood testing are just some of these.

Whatever you decide to do, the first step is to see your doctor, because the symptoms could be caused by something other than gluten.

If you want to read more about coeliac disease or gluten-sensitivity, check  the work by, or New Zealand’s own

Buckwheat ginger biscuits

(Gluten free, grain free, dairy free, refined sugar free)


Makes 10

5 tbs buckwheat flour
2 tbs tapioca flour
4 tbs olive oil
2 tbs maple syrup
1-2 tbs fresh ginger, grated (adjust to match how much you love ginger)
1/4 tsp whole fennel seeds
A few grinds of black pepper
Heat oven to 180 celsius.

– Grease an oven tray.
– Mix all ingredients together to form a dough.
– Roll into balls and flatten to 1/4 inch on oven tray.
– Bake until golden (approx 9 minutes). Cool on the oven tray to prevent crumbling.
– Eat! (yum)


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