Coeliac disease and the impact of the gluten-free diet on gut health
Coeliac disease is an autoimmune condition that occurs in genetically predisposed individuals who develop an immune reaction to gluten. Gluten sources mainly affect the small intestine and ingestion can trigger symptoms such as abdominal pain, cramping, diarrhoea and fatigue. The first point of treatment after diagnosis of Coeliac disease is to follow a gluten-free (GF) diet for life, but it can bring consequences to the gut microbiota if done incorrectly as wheat and barley are sources of prebiotic fibres. A study conducted on healthy participants looked into the changes in the gut microbiota after following a GF diet for one month - results demonstrated that the GF diet impacted gut bacteria environment, with specific decrease in beneficial gut bacteria and increase in opportunistic ones, suggesting a disruption in the gut microbiota balance. An imbalance in the gut microbiota with overgrowth of opportunistic bacteria can lead to a weaker immune response, increasing risk infection and chronic inflammation. Care should be taken when starting a GF diet, replacement of prebiotic fibres from gluten-containing grains is essential but you shouldn't look for those in the free from aisle! Most food sources are naturally gluten free, meaning you can break free from the gluten free section. Fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds, beans and pulses as well as grains such as quinoa, buckwheat and brown rice are naturally gluten free and high in fibre, decreasing the risk of nutritional deficiency in prebiotic fibres. You can access the full article here.