Nutrition for IBS, Reflux and Bloated Stomach Relief

New Tests For Coeliac Disease or Gluten Intolerance

November 22nd, 2013 by
Jess Keane (BSc. Biochem Post Grad Dip. Nutrition) discusses new tests called Gluten Associated Peptides. These tests are tests for people with coeliac disease or gluten tolerance (gluten sensitivity . It will help them understand why they may still be reacting to foods, even though they are on a gluten-free diet. 

Ireland is thought to have one of the highest incidences of coeliac disease in the world and many experts believe that many more cases of coeliac disease, and even more of gluten intolerance or gluten sensitivity, remained undiagnosed. It is therefore exciting news that innovative diagnostic tests are now available to health professionals in Ireland. These tests will help GPs and consultants to more accurately diagnose coeliac disease or gluten intolerance, and other autoimmune conditions. The test that I am most excited about looks at immune reactions to foods. This is not a standard food intolerance test. It specializes in what is termed ‘Gluten-associated Peptides”. I will do my best to explain simply what this means in the following two paragraphs.

Gluten refers to a family of proteins found in wheat, rye and barley. Gliadin is the one most well known and it is found in wheat. Anyone following a gluten-free diet will know to avoid these foods and any products containing them. However, some people will notice that they fail to thrive on this diet and they still experience reactions to foods.

The term “Gluten-associated Peptides” refers to small fragments of gluten found in other foods; foods that you would not necessarily expect, such as sesame, hemp, yeast, coffee, chocolate, egg, potato, dairy and even soy, millet, quinoa, corn, amaranth and rice. Yes, I know the last few foods on the list are the grains that do not contain gluten and are the ingredients most used in gluten-free products. They do not contain the gluten protein but instead small fragments of broken down gluten – “gluten-associated peptides”. It is to these small peptides that you could be reacting.

I am a lecturer in nutrition and would like to share the story of one of my students. She had been diagnosed with latent coeliac disease five years previously. She had been following a gluten-free diet and was doing well; her energy levels were up, she had put on weight, had colour in her cheeks and her memory and focus had greatly improved. Her diet was based on meat, fish, vegetables and fruit. No grains at all. During her first year at college she had learnt about the importance of a balanced diet, so had started to eat rice-based cereal every morning. Over the course of a year she gradually lost weight and became very tired again. She decided to go back to her grain-free breakfast of fruit or eggs, spinach and tomatoes. Once again her energy levels started to improve. If this test had been available, it may have saved this lady numerous days of feeling under the weather and helped her identify which grains and other gluten-associated foods she could eat.

The Gluten Summit was on last week and, as the 29 speakers made clear, a number of health conditions are associated with gluten sensitivity. These include autism, multiple sclerosis, ADD, ADHD, allergies, osteoporosis, irritable bowel syndrome, colitis and other digestive system disorders.  So if you suffer from any of these conditions, have tried a gluten-free diet and still struggle to thrive, consider this test.

Click to find out more about tests for Coeliac Disease or Gluten Intolerance or Gluten Sensitivity.