Gluten and coeliac disease

Gluten and coeliac disease

Gluten is a protein present in wheat, barley, freekeh (Egyptian grain), hulled wheat, kamut, spelt, triticale, rye, and all their flours and derivatives, such as malt.

Coeliac disease is an autoimmune disease caused by gluten. Consuming foods containing gluten, even in very reduced quantities, causes an abnormal immune reaction and chronic inflammation of the intestine and intestinal villi in those who are predisposed to this condition, reducing their ability to absorb nutrients and leading to symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhoea and bloating.

In bakery products, pastries and pizzas, gluten forms an elastic mesh that allows the dough to rise, trapping the carbon dioxide produced during the fermentation process. The gases produced from the sugars when they come into contact with the yeasts remain trapped inside the dough and give it perfect ‘pockets’, i.e. a spongy inner structure. This then gives the product its soft texture and pleasant aroma, making it light and airy. This is why gluten is called the glue of the dough. To replicate the positive effect that this agent has on the dough, it is therefore necessary to use a thickener, preferably vegetable-based, like locust bean gum, for example. Starch can also be used to give the dough a nice texture.


Incidence of coeliac disease and other disorders linked to gluten

Coeliac disease in Italy is estimated to affect around one in every 100 people. There are therefore around 600,000 coeliacs in Italy. Today, the number of people officially diagnosed is at around 182,858 (figure taken from the annual report to the Italian Parliament on coeliac disease), with an increase of around 5% each year.

A rigorous  diet is the only form of treatment that ensures that coeliac patients are able to maintain a perfect state of health. It is therefore necessary for coeliacs to exclude some of the most common food items from their diet, i.e. bread, pasta, biscuits and pizza, and to also eliminate even the slightest traces of flour from all meals.

Gluten sensitivity

Similar symptoms to those experienced in coeliac disease occur. However, coeliac disease and wheat allergy can be excluded from the diagnosis. Improvements are noticed with a  diet. It is probably more common than coeliac disease.

Wheat allergy

This is a food allergy. There are different components in the wheat protein that cause the wheat allergy. Treatment consists of a wheat-free diet.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

Irritable bowel syndrome affects 10-15% of the population.
Diet represents a key element in combating this disorder.
According to recent studies, a  diet relieves the symptoms of IBS in around 30% of patients.

Watch the video to find out more about which foods contain gluten, the types of disorders it causes for those who have a gluten intolerance or sensitivity and discover how, through an appropriate diet, together with Dr. Schär products, you can offer your customers tasty dishes, as well as the opportunity to enjoy eating out again.