Understanding Gluten Free Living (Q&A)

What does gluten free mean?

So, what does gluten free actually mean?



The answer is not always simple, and it certainly warrants some further discussion in order to fully understand what being gluten free means, as well as how and why someone would go gluten free.



In this article I’ll answer your questions about the differences between Coeliac Disease and Non-Coeliac Gluten Sensitivity and guide you to other helpful resources I have for the specific areas of gluten free living.


You can also check out The Gut Be Good Podcast & YouTube channel here.


I hope you find this article helpful and informative, and feel free to get in touch via my contact page (where you’ll find all ways to contact me) and ask any questions.



See the quick links below to skip to the relevant sections:

What does gluten free mean?
Gluten free labelling in food
Understanding non-coeliac gluten sensitivity (NCGS)
What is coeliac disease?
Differentiating coeliac disease and non-coeliac gluten sensitivity
Gluten sensitivity vs. gluten intolerance
Debunking the “gluten allergy” term
Can you be gluten sensitive but not coeliac?
Determining gluten sensitivity or coeliac disease
Seeking professional guidance
Ready to embark on your gut health journey?
Final message
Sources

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    DISCLAIMERS & DISCLOSURES

    This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link.
    Please see my full disclosure for further information
    DISCLOSURE
    & my full Disclaimer for further information – DISCLAIMER

    Any advice offered within this article is meant for educational purposes only and should not be used as a sole resource for understanding the medical conditions discussed within. Any changes made to your diet, lifestyle and general well-being should be discussed with your GP or similar healthcare professional who is aware of your unique medical history and not made according to advice provided within this article or anywhere else on this website.


    While the utmost care has been taken in devising the information residing on this website, it is your sole responsibility as the reader to utilise the information as you see fit and by reading the information present on this website you accept personal responsibility over any health outcomes related to you and your condition which occur as a direct or indirect result of using the information on this website in any way.

    Always Check Ingredients Labels for Allergen Information
    before consuming a product.

    This is important in case there are changes in
    manufacturing since the date of publication of this article.

    It’s also a good idea in general, especially if you have allergies rather than intolerances/sensitivities to certain ingredients to check ingredients labels before consuming a product.

    Understanding Gluten-Free Living

    What does gluten-free mean?

    Living gluten-free entails avoiding foods containing the protein gluten, found in wheat, barley, rye, and their derivatives. Foods with these ingredients are off-limits unless explicitly labeled gluten-free, meaning they contain less than the safe legal limit of 20ppm (parts per million) of gluten.

    There are some exceptions to this rule, which you’ll understand as you read the other sections below.

    Gluten-Free Labelling in Food

    Products labelled gluten-free either lack gluten ingredients or have undergone processes reducing gluten content to below 20ppm. This threshold ensures safety for individuals with Coeliac Disease, Non-Coeliac Gluten Sensitivity (NCGS), or those on a gluten-free diet.

    Understanding Non-Coeliac Gluten Sensitivity (NCGS)

    NCGS is a condition where individuals experience adverse reactions to gluten without having Coeliac Disease or Wheat Allergy. It replaces terms like gluten intolerance, emphasizing a universal use of the term NCGS.


    I have a full article exploring Non-coeliac gluten sensitivity here, which goes into much more detail about the condition and provides many resources for support.

    What is Coeliac Disease?

    Coeliac Disease is an autoimmune condition triggered by gluten ingestion, causing immune responses damaging the intestinal villi. Without a lifelong gluten-free diet, it can lead to severe health issues and other autoimmune conditions.

    Differentiating Coeliac Disease and NCGS

    Coeliac Disease is a lifelong autoimmune disease, whereas NCGS is not. The key distinction is the immune response and intestinal damage present in Coeliac Disease, absent in NCGS. Both conditions require a gluten-free diet.

    Use these quick links to skip to relevant sections:

    What does gluten free mean?
    Gluten free labelling in food
    Understanding non-coeliac gluten sensitivity (NCGS)
    What is coeliac disease?
    Differentiating coeliac disease and non-coeliac gluten sensitivity
    Gluten sensitivity vs. gluten intolerance
    Debunking the “gluten allergy” term
    Can you be gluten sensitive but not coeliac?
    Determining gluten sensitivity or coeliac disease
    Seeking professional guidance
    Ready to embark on your gut health journey?
    Final message
    Sources

    Gluten Sensitivity vs. Gluten Intolerance

    The term Non-Coeliac Gluten Sensitivity (NCGS) replaces gluten sensitivity and intolerance, unifying these conditions referring to an inability to consume gluten without Coeliac Disease or Wheat Allergy.


    You can find a full list of foods that are safe to eat on a gluten free diet here. It’s A-Z with plenty of subheadings to help you navigate to what you want to know about.

    Debunking the “gluten allergy” term

    Contrary to common misperceptions, there is no gluten allergy. True allergies can occur to specific grains containing gluten, like wheat or barley, but these are distinct from Coeliac Disease or NCGS and may lead to anaphylaxis.

    What does gluten free mean?
(Your Q's Answered with ZERO Confusion)

    Can You Be Gluten Sensitive but not Coeliac?

    Individuals can have either Non-Coeliac Gluten Sensitivity or Coeliac Disease, not both. Both conditions share a treatment option—adopting a gluten-free diet. NCGS involves Coeliac-like symptoms without autoimmune aspects.

    Determining Gluten Sensitivity or Coeliac Disease

    The initial step is to continue eating gluten-containing foods and undergo blood tests for Total IgA and IgA-tTg to detect antibodies produced in response to gluten in Coeliac Disease. Additional tests may be required for inconclusive results.


    This section of my full non-coeliac gluten sensitivity article provides more information on the differentiating and diagnosing aspects of NCGS.

    What does gluten free mean?
(Your Q's Answered with ZERO Confusion)

    Seeking Professional Guidance

    Understanding your symptoms and seeking professional guidance is crucial. Whether you have Coeliac Disease or NCGS, adopting a gluten-free lifestyle is the primary treatment. If in doubt, consult with a medical professional for accurate diagnosis and personalized advice.

    If you’re interested in choosing a home test for Coeliac Disease, you’ll find my full comparison of what home coeliac disease tests are available and which one ranked best here.

    Ready to embark on your gut health journey?

    Join my email list for exclusive insights, subscribe to the Gut Be Good Podcast, and follow our YouTube channel for more in-depth discussions and helpful (but also, fun) videos!

    Join the Newsletter
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      Keywords: Gluten-free, Gluten sensitivity, Coeliac Disease, Wheat allergy, Non-Coeliac Gluten Sensitivity (NCGS), Gluten intolerance, Gluten allergy, Autoimmune disease, Villi damage, Immune response, Gluten proteins, Anaphylaxis, Total IgA, IgA-tTg, Gluten-free diet, Wheat derivatives, True allergies, First-line blood tests, Secondary line testing, Symptoms after eating gluten

      Final Message:

      Navigating a gluten-free lifestyle is essential for managing Coeliac Disease, Non-Coeliac Gluten Sensitivity (NCGS), or choosing a gluten-free diet.


      It involves avoiding wheat, barley, rye, and derivatives, unless labelled gluten-free. NCGS captures gluten reactions without autoimmunity, streamlining language. Coeliac Disease, an autoimmune condition, demands a lifelong gluten-free approach.


      Debunking misconceptions, there’s no gluten allergy; true allergies may cause anaphylaxis but differ from Coeliac Disease or NCGS.


      Adopting a gluten-free lifestyle is the common treatment. Seek professional guidance for accurate diagnosis, and be sure to use my community here for insights and support. Subscribe to my podcast, follow me on YouTube, and stay informed for a healthier gluten-free journey.

      I’m here to help!

      Gemma x

      Contact me here.

      Sources:

      Allergy UK. (n.d.). Reactions to Wheat Factsheet. Retrieved from https://www.allergyuk.org/resources/reactions-to-wheat-factsheet/

      American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI). (n.d.). Wheat Allergy. Retrieved from https://acaai.org/allergies/allergic-conditions/food/wheat-gluten/

      Anaphylaxis Campaign. (n.d.). Wheat Allergy. Retrieved from https://www.anaphylaxis.org.uk/fact-sheet/wheat-allergy/

      Beyond Celiac. “Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity.” Beyond Celiac, https://www.beyondceliac.org/celiac-disease/non-celiac-gluten-sensitivity/.

      Celiac Disease Foundation. (n.d.). What is Celiac Disease? Retrieved from https://celiac.org/about-celiac-disease/what-is-celiac-disease/

      Coeliac UK. (n.d.). About Coeliac Disease. Retrieved from https://www.coeliac.org.uk/information-and-support/coeliac-disease/about-coeliac-disease/

      Coeliac UK. “Gluten Sensitivity.” Coeliac UK, https://www.coeliac.org.uk/information-and-support/coeliac-disease/about-coeliac-disease/gluten-sensitivity/.

      Guts UK. (n.d.). Coeliac Disease. Retrieved from https://gutscharity.org.uk/advice-and-information/conditions/coeliac-disease/

      Mayo Clinic. (n.d.). Wheat Allergy. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/wheat-allergy/symptoms-causes/syc-20378897

      National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). (n.d.). Coeliac Disease. Clinical Knowledge Summaries. Retrieved from https://cks.nice.org.uk/topics/coeliac-disease/

      National Health Service (NHS). (n.d.). Coeliac Disease. Retrieved from https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coeliac-disease/

      NHS Inform. (n.d.). Coeliac Disease. Retrieved from https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/stomach-liver-and-gastrointestinal-tract/coeliac-disease/coeliac-disease/

      Gemma Hartshorn

      Gemma is a mum to twins with non-coeliac gluten sensitivity and has been living a gut-health focused life for many years herself. She has 5 years adult nursing experience in the UK and achieved a distinction in her Diploma of Higher Education in Healthcare from Oxford Brookes University. She is currently completing a BSc in Health Science and has a keen interest and knowledge of all things gut health. Listen to her Gut Be Good podcast or join her on the Gut Be Good youtube channel for more insights, sharing and helpful information on all things gut health related alongside her website here. Contact Details: glutenfreeshopeasy@gmail.com Unit 80366, PO Box 6945, London, W1A 6US

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