Frequently Asked Questions

What is gluten?
Gluten in the food industry often refers to storage proteins found in all grains. These storage proteins are beneficial in food production, adding flavor, texture or thickening.

Gluten-free refers only to specific storage proteins known to be harmful and potentially damaging for persons with glutenintolerances (celiac disease, dermatitis herpetiformis, and non-celiac gluten sensitivities). Gluten-free diets avoid the storage proteins found in wheat, rye, barley, and hybrids of these grains such as spelt and Kamut®.

Who should eat gluten-free food?
People who have been advised by their physician to be on a gluten-free diet should eat gluten-free foods. This would include persons with all forms of gluten intolerance.

What types of gluten intolerances are there?
Gluten intolerances are both autoimmune (genetic) and innate immune responses. Autoimmune gluten disorders include celiac disease and dermatitis herpetiformis. Persons with these conditions will suffer tissue damage in the intestine or skin when eating gluten. They may suffer a number of symptoms and related health issues as a result. Gluten sensitivity is an innate immune response, similar in reaction to lactose intolerance. Although this type of reaction does not cause damage to the intestine or skin, it may cause inflammation and other health-related problems. Avoiding gluten is the only way for persons with gluten-related disorders to maintain good health.

How do I know if I have celiac disease?
Blood tests are available to screen for celiac disease but a positive small bowel biopsy is required to confirm the diagnosis of celiac disease. Skin biopsies are used to diagnose dermatitis herpetiformis.

How can I learn more about celiac disease?
The Gluten Intolerance Group® can help you learn more about Celiac Disease. See our education bulletins.

Does gluten-free mean individuals with severe wheat allergy can eat the product?
Not necessarily, you should consult your physician. Gluten-free foods are foods safe for persons with celiac disease. They have none or very, very low levels of the ‘gluten’ proteins that could be harmful to persons with celiac disease. Celiac disease is a t-cell mediated reaction. Wheat allergies involve an IgE-mediated reaction to the wheat albumin and globulin protein fractions. Gluten reactions are to the gliadin and glutenin protein fractions. In some situations, gluten-free foods could induce an IgE-mediated reaction, especially if the product contains wheat starch. By definition gluten-free foods could safely have as much as 20 ppm gluten. If a person with a wheat allergy is sensitive to both the albumin or globulin and glutenin or gliadin fractions, they could have a reaction to gluten-free products.