Gluten Free Products
1 in 100 people are estimated to suffer from coeliac disease in Europe. SNE supports gluten intolerant consumers in achieving balanced nutrition.
What is gluten and where can it be found?
Gluten is a protein naturally found in cereals, such as wheat, barley, and rye and therefore in products made of those cereals (e.g., bread, pasta, biscuits). Gluten is responsible for creating an elastic and chewy texture in food products due to its viscoelastic and adhesive properties.
Coeliac disease is a serious life-long autoimmune disorder occurring in genetically predisposed people where the consumption of gluten triggers an immune response that attacks the small intestine. This adverse immune response damages the micro villi lining in the small intestine, resulting in malabsorption of nutrients from food.
Coeliac disease can develop at any age after people start eating gluten. Without adequate diagnosis and treatment, coeliac patients risk the development of other conditions such as osteoporosis, diabetes and intestinal cancer.
Wheat allergy is sometimes confused with coeliac disease as it also triggers a defence reaction of the body towards various proteins in wheat, including gluten. However, while with coeliac disease all types of gluten-containing cereals must be strictly avoided, with wheat allergy it is necessary to primarily avoid wheat. Unlike celiac disease, wheat allergy can be outgrown.
Non-coeliac gluten sensitivity
Non-coeliac gluten sensitivity is not an autoimmune disorder but a condition that occurs when coeliac disease and wheat allergy is medically ruled out, but the consumption of gluten-containing foods causes intestinal and extra-intestinal symptoms. This condition is still poorly understood to date.
Medical problems associated with gluten consumption
Unfortunately, gluten can trigger adverse, inflammatory, immunological, and autoimmune reactions in some adults and children as well. These are:
• Coeliac disease
• Non-coeliac gluten sensitivity
• Wheat allergy
Across Europe, more than 7 million people are affected by coeliac disease, with only approximately 25% of those actually receiving a diagnosis*.
Symptoms and treatement
The symptoms of coeliac disease, non-coeliac gluten sensitivity and wheat allergy are very similar which makes it crucial to accurately diagnose exactly which of the medical problems a person has. It is important to note that the severity and the number of symptoms can vary from one person to another, including children. The most common symptoms are:
• Bloating, cramps in the intestine and the stomach
• Nausea, vomiting
• Weight loss
• Skin rash, eczema
In addition, in some cases patients experience extreme fatigue, loss of concentration, depression, and many other symptoms.
Although today there is no cure for coeliac disease, a gluten free diet can help control symptoms, decrease discomfort, and prevent any long-term complications and other diseases.
When a consumer is gluten
intolerant, many ‘regular’ foods
become off-limits –
Including bread, pasta, breakfast cereals and biscuits. SNE members produce special gluten-free foods that meet coeliac nutritional needs and that are similar in taste and texture to products containing gluten, helping to maintain the gluten free diet all lifelong. Gluten-free foods act as effective and healthy substitutes for products that normally contain wheat, rye or barley and allow coeliacs to enjoy a varied and complete diet with confidence.
SNE members produce substitutes for a range of foods that would normally contain gluten. These include:
- Muesli, some cereals, bran
- Ready-to-eat products
- Bread, pretzels, rye bread
- Pasta, couscous, semolina, pastry
- Cookies, cakes, biscuits, pancakes
The need for specifically formulated products
Gluten-free products are specifically designed to exclude gluten for consumers who are gluten intolerant.
They act as replacements for ‘regular’ foods that contain gluten including bread, pasta, breakfast cereal, and biscuits.
They are formulated to maintain the same taste and texture as gluten-containing foods
such as bread and pasta. This favours the acceptability of products and improves the compliance to the gluten-free diet.
The simple exclusion of gluten from the diet can result in a deficiency of some nutrients
(fiber, iron, calcium and folate). Specialised gluten-free foods can help to compensate for nutritional deficiencies which can result from a gluten-free diet.
Commitment to the highest quality and safety standards
Gluten-free manufacturers have partnered with leading healthcare professionals and scientific societies for the past 20 years to develop a range of guidelines on aspects of coeliac disease and its management.
In 2002, when the first serological blood tests were made available within primary care, gluten-free manufacturers and interested healthcare professionals initiated the first evidence-based report on the role of the gluten-free foods in coeliac disease.