United European Gastroenterology: Wheat-related disorders – Gluten-free diet may do more harm than good

West Sussex, England, 9-9-2014 — /EuropaWire/ — Cereals such as wheat have long been considered a fundamental food source, yet growing numbers of people are intolerant to them and the list of wheat-related conditions seems to grow daily. Now, experts are calling for a greater awareness of wheat-related disorders in order that gluten-intolerant patients are diagnosed more swiftly and receive the best possible treatment.

United European GastroenterologyAccording to a paper, „Wheat-related disorders: A broad spectrum of „evolving‟ diseases,‟ published in this month’s UEG Journal,¹ experts Professor Giovanni Gasbarrini and Dr Francesca Mangiola suggest that people eating a gluten-free diet may also be at risk of developing new food intolerances, due to excessive substitution of alternative carbohydrates and foods containing nickel which may lead to additional health problems.

They offer the following practical advice to clinicians on how to differentiate between coeliac disease and other gluten-related disorders to diagnose conditions more effectively and ensure sufferers do not follow a gluten-free diet unnecessarily:

  • Perform a thorough medical history, with particular attention given to the native gut microbiota.
  • Extensively explore the symptoms and assess the presence of any history of allergies.
  • Evaluate the genetic background with great care because it is often
    important to target or confirm the diagnosis and in some cases, make it unlikely.

Gluten: the wheat toxin
Gluten is a substance found in wheat, barley and rye that is composed of the two proteins, gliaden and glutenin. Researchers believe that gliaden is the gluten component people react to when they have wheat-related disorders. A number of distinct medical conditions are now recognised to be gluten-related including coeliac disease, wheat allergy and the newly-defined condition, non-coeliac gluten sensitivity. According to Gasbarrini and Mangiola’s paper, among the problematic disorders related to gluten, around 10% may be wheat allergy, 6% may be non-coeliac gluten sensitivity and only 1% is coeliac disease.¹

Commenting on the article, UEG Spokesperson, Professor Antonio Gasbarrini said it is important to raise awareness of wheat-related disorders in order that people are not left undiagnosed and suffering. “Gluten-related disorders, like all food allergies, are extremely disabling and can have a major impact on people’s lives,” he said. “Most of us have heard of coeliac disease, but the other conditions are also very distressing and they are far more common.”

“Many clinicians struggle to differentiate between the wheat-related disorders so practical advice like this is always helpful,” adds Prof. Gasbarrini. “Hopefully, as clinicians and patients become more aware of the range of conditions associated with wheat and gluten, the quicker they can be diagnosed, receive the most appropriate treatment and prevent associated health problems.”

1. Gasbarrini GB, Mangiola F. Wheat related disorders: A broad spectrum of „evolving‟ diseases. United European Gastroenterology 2014;2(4):254-62. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4114114/

Notes to editor:

About UEG Week
UEG Week is the largest and most prestigious gastroenterology meeting in Europe and has developed into a global congress. It attracts over 14,000 participants each year, from more than 120 countries, and numbers are steadily
rising. UEG Week provides a forum for basic and clinical scientists from across the globe to present their latest research in digestive and liver diseases, and also features a two-day postgraduate course that brings together top lecturers in their fields for a weekend of interactive learning.

About UEG
UEG, or United European Gastroenterology, is a professional non-profit organisation combining all the leading European societies concerned with digestive diseases. Together, its member societies represent over 22,000 specialists, working across medicine, surgery, paediatrics, gastrointestinal oncology and endoscopy. This makes UEG the most comprehensive organisation of its kind in the world, and a unique platform for collaboration and the exchange of knowledge.

To advance standards of gastroenterological care and knowledge across Europe and the world, UEG offers numerous activities and initiatives besides UEG Week, including:

  • UEG Education, the universal source of knowledge in gastroenterology, providing online and classroom courses, a huge online library and delivering the latest GI news, fostering debate and discussion
  • Training Support, funding for innovative training and educational programmes, as well as international scientific and professional co-operations
  • UEG Journal, published bi-monthly, covering translational and clinical studies from all areas of gastroenterology
  • EU Affairs, promoting research, prevention, early diagnosis and treatment of digestive diseases, and helping develop an effective health policy for Europe

Find out more about UEG’s work. Visit www.ueg.eu and Twitter: @UEGMedia

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Professor Antonio Gasbarrini

Professor Antonio Gasbarrini


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