Topic 2 Foods and celiac disease

A gluten-free diet is healthier than a gluten diet for a healthy person.

Currently there is an increasingly large group of people who do not suffer from celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity and they decide to remove gluten from their diet. The main reasons are usually from fashion or to improve physical performance. This fact is also related to the perception of improvement in some health problems, which are not related to digestive symptoms.

However, at this time and with the scientific evidence available, the relationship between a gluten-free diet and improvement in health or performance is not established and there is no serious study with a sufficient simple to support that eliminating gluten from the diet in no-celiac people, improve their pathological processes, increase their performance or even contribute to he desired weight loss.

On the other hand, it has been shown that gluten-free diets that are not well planned and carried out indiscriminately and without supervision, can lead to certain nutritional deficiencies, especially in fiber, selenium, magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc or some vitamins such as vitamin D or vitamin B12.

Likewise, gluten is a protein naturally present in certain cereals and there is no evidence that it is supposed to be detrimental to the health of healthy people.

Oats does not contain gluten by nature

The cereals that contain gluten by nature are: wheat, barley, rye, spelled, kamut, triticale, bulgur.

Oats do not contain gluten naturally but it is true that is very easily contaminated during collection, transport, handling or distribution. On the other hand, it is common to find oats sharing food composition with other cereals or flours of the same. For example, oatmeal breads and barley or wheat flour.

On the other hand, oats contain a protein called aveni, which structurally resemles glutenin, a component of gluten. However, estrictly speaking, oatmeal is gluten-free in its composition.

Lentils contain gluten by nature

Lentils are naturally gluten-free. So, why do so many people with celiac drop out of the diet? The reason is because if there is no certification of the purity of the crop and that this product has not been mixed with others, it is highly likely to be contaminated, mainly with wheat grains, during cultivation, harvesting, storage or distribution.

There are components, within the labeling, and without being their foods, which may contain gluten.

As gluten has emulsifying, binding and gelling properties, it is frequently used as an additive.

European Union Regulation 828/2014 of the Commission on the requirements for the transmission of information to consumers on the absence or reduced presence of gluten in food.

Food labeling and cross-gluten contamination

There are foods lists where foods that are naturally gluten-free are reflected. Also foods that, by composition, always contain gluten. There is also the section on specific products made for people with celiac disease, which must always bear the “gluten-free” mark.

The main problema arises in the rest of foods that, depending on the components, handling, use of ingredients, contaminations, etc. they may or may not have gluten. In these circumstances, whenever that product contains a gluten-containing cereal as an ingredient, the is an obligation to communicate it.

On the other hand, if the risk of the presence of gluten comes from a possible cross contamination or the presence of traces, there is no obligation to indicate it. For this reason, in this group of products it will be safer to consume those specifically labeled with the “gluten-free” brand.

At the European level, the European license System for gluten-free productos (ELS) is used, known as Barred Spike, which certifies that the productos that carry it have less tan 20 ppm, that is, they are suitable for consumption by people with celiac disease. Therefore, if the barred spike appears on the product and the rest of the information required by the European certification, it is a gluten-free product. If the product is labeled with the expression gluten-free and is not accompanied by the barred spike or some other international seal, it will also be suitable.

E1404Oxidized starch
E1410Monostarch phosphate
E1412Distarch phosphate
E1413Phosphated distarch phosphate
E1414Acetylated distarch phosphate
E1420Acetylated starch
E1422Acetylated distarch adipate
E1440Hydroxyproyl starch
E1442Hydroxypropylated distarch phosphate
E1450Sodium starch octenyl succinate


Malt extractMalt syrup
ProteinProtein hidrolyzate
ThickenersVegetal protein
Vegetal protein hidrolyzate 

What is gluten cross-contamination?

Gluten cross-contamination occurs when a product, food, utensil or surface with gluten comes into contact, even minimally, with another that is gluten-free or that is to be used by a person with celiac disease.

At home

  • Use os exclusive and identified cutlery for the person with celiac disease.
  • Keep gluten-free and gluten products away.
  • Always place gluten-free products on upper shelves.
  • Serve first, common dishes, to the person with celiac disease.
  • Do not pass bread with gluten on the plate, napkin, glass, etc. of the celiac person.
  • Do not put a cuthery that has been in contact with gluten back in a commonly used container.

At the restaurant

  • Check in advance if they cook food suitable for people without gluten.
  • Identify yourself upon arrival and to anyone who attends the table.
  • Choose dishes from the menu identified as gluten-free.
  • Do not hesitate to request an explanation of the elaboration or handlling of a product.
  • When in doubt as to whether a dish contains gluten, do not consume it.

The more basic a dish, food, preparation, etc. the less likey it is that it contains gluten in its composition. For example, a grilled dish if the oil is a single use, has less risk of containing gluten tan, for example, a stew.

In this section, cooks and waiters have a great responsibility.

Shopping tips

  • Go to trusted establishments and always  with labeled products.
  • Avoid buying in bulk.
  • Preferably choose packaged products that cannot have been contaminated by customers who touch gluten and gluten-free foods.
  • Avoid the rush.
  • Check the products labels. On conventional products, look form the gluten-free symbol on the label (barried spike).
  • Whenever posible, place gluten-free and gluten foods in differents bags.
  • When in doubt as to whether or not the product contains gluten, do not buy.
  • Do not abuse products made especially for people with celiac disease, you can get a healthy, balanced and tasty diet using a significant amount of fresh gluten-free foods.
  • Increase the variety of cereals consumed.

What recommendations should be given when making the purchase?

a) Know foods that are gluten-free by nature, with gluten by nature and those dependent on the handlling and distribution processes.
b) Know and read labels.
c) Use the more basic food, the better. Limit the use os prepared foods os dishes.
d) All of the above.