Gluten-free diets may not be helpful

Research commissioned by Amcal showed that 27 per cent of those surveyed admitted they had no idea what coeliac disease was, and 57 per cent of those who claimed to have a gluten intolerance had diagnosed themselves.

Senior Amcal pharmacist James Neville said the research showed one in 10 were following a gluten-free diet to improve their health or lose weight, but warned there could be some negative health effects to going gluten-free voluntarily.

“It is generally not recommended that people initiate a gluten-free diet unless there’s a medical reason to do so,” he said.

“Restrictive diets can lack certain nutrients, so if you remove gluten, you may put yourself at risk of a nutritional deficiency in iron, calcium and zinc and some gluten-free foods are high in sugar and fats and lower in fibre.

“I think many people find that they don’t feel particularly well when they consume certain foods and gluten seems to have become a popular cause to blame.

“Symptoms like bloating, digestive discomfort and lethargy can be quite bothersome and when gluten gets a bad rap for producing these signs, people tend to self-treat without properly investigating the true cause.”

However, Laila Gampfer, the founder of Rawsome, who was medically diagnosed with coeliac disease six years ago, said if a person feels better without gluten, whether they are diagnosed with coeliac disease or not, then adopting a gluten free lifestyle could be healthier for them.

“By experience, we are able to determine what makes us feel great and what makes us feel unwell and there is substantial science and data to support the notion that gluten causes gastrointestinal distress and inflammation in the body whether symptoms are noticed or not,” she said.