How much gluten is in a typical diet and how much gluten causes damage in a Coeliac?

Published on July 20, 2016 at 12:00 AM

The amount of gluten consumed in an average gluten containing diet varies between 10 to 40 grams per day. Gluten is a very common component in foods and this figure is largely based on the amounts of gluten in your average slice of whole wheat bread, around 4.8 grams or 10% by weight of gluten, and in a serving of pasta, roughly 6.4 grams or 11% by weight of gluten. For a Coeliac, this is very important as Coeliac disease is a difficult to detect autoimmune disorder. Coeliac disease is a genetically induced reaction to gluten, of the small intestine which produces a number of undesirable symptoms from mild discomfort to serious and potentially fatal depending upon the extent of gluten caused gut damage and duration of exposure. With continuing gluten ingestion and gut damage, the problems compound and the Coeliac cannot properly absorb all the needed nutrients as food passes through their small intestine. This predisposes them to a number of deficiency diseases which often overlap with various sugar fermentation issues, other allergies, food intolerances and diabetes as well as a greatly increased predisposition to contracting certain forms of cancer.

These are some of the reasons for the mandatory and non-negotiable advice to follow a strictly gluten free diet and why adapting to a gluten free diet is so important not only for your own health but for that of your family as well. Often within a few days and certainly weeks of adopting a remedial gluten free diet bowel health begins to return to normal reversing the gluten damage that has been done and gradually restoring digestion and nutrient assimilation to normality and steadily reducing exposure to the many unpleasant side effects of Coeliac Disease. Sometimes the Coeliac may recover from lactose intolerance or fructose mal-absorption depending upon the prior extent and duration of exposure. Usually, the more longer term the un-diagnosed exposure the lower the chance of recovery from the additional complaints. 

How much gluten will cause damage depends on the individual person but studies have shown that consuming just 1/5th of a slice of wheat bread can bring on various uncomfortable side effects in the Coeliac. Older studies also support recent anecdotal evidence suggesting that one crumb of bread can cause mild to severe intestinal inflammation leading to hospitalization in severe and extremely sensitive cases. Another factor that needs to be recognized and carefully considered is that the effects of even small amounts of gluten consumed daily become cumulative with as little as 50 milligrams of gluten per day increasing your symptoms and intestinal damage.

As a Coeliac, what side effects have you experienced? As an interested reader, do you now have a better understanding of Coeliac disease? Please share your experiences and thoughts in the comment box below.