Why does wheat make people with celiac disease sick?

Who are gluten free foods for?

Status: October 5th, 2020 4:35 p.m.
Some people cannot tolerate wheat products.

Sales of gluten-free foods are increasing, even though the products are up to five times more expensive than conventional foods. The adhesive protein gluten is a natural component of many types of grain. It's inside the seed. There it supplies the germinating plants with amino acids and proteins that they need to grow. Most grains contain gluten, for example wheat, rye, spelled and barley. Only people with proven celiac disease have to do without gluten completely.

Celiac disease: antibodies against gluten attack the intestines

In celiac disease, the immune system produces antibodies that attack gluten - but unfortunately also the intestines, where they destroy sensitive cells. About one percent of the population is affected. Most celiac patients suffer from indigestion and lack of nutrients, and become thinner and weaker. Other symptoms such as fatigue and decreased fertility, psychiatric illnesses or migraines can also be associated with celiac disease. There is no cure. Those affected have to do without wheat and other gluten-containing foods for life. Even the smallest traces of gluten are harmful.

Wheat sensitivity: exhaustion and tiredness

People who suffer from wheat sensitivity should avoid wheat flour - that is up to five percent of Germans. Signs are exhaustion, tiredness and overwork. The disease used to be called gluten sensitivity. But new studies show that components from wheat could trigger the sensitivity - so-called ATIs, for example, natural insect repellants of the plant.

Small amounts are usually not a problem for people with wheat sensitivity. But if they largely do without wheat, they are better off.

Carbohydrates can also make you sick

But carbohydrates are also suspected of triggering inflammation: special sugar compounds (FODMAPs) that are poorly absorbed by the small intestine. They can be found in fruits, vegetables, cow's milk and bread.

Digestive problems are the result, but not infrequently other complaints such as joint or headaches are also the result. Diagnosis is difficult because the disease can only be proven by omitting products containing wheat.

Nutritionists from Lübeck have completed a study in which they gave people with irritable bowel syndrome different types of bread to eat. One baked with commercial wheat flour with a high FODMAP content. The other with a specially developed flour with a lower FODMAP content. The irritable bowel patients who received the low-FODMAP bread reacted significantly less with this bloated stomach. That means it was tolerated better overall.

"Gluten-free" can increase your risk of diabetes

Gluten-free products can have disadvantages for healthy people: A study has shown that people who avoid gluten have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. For example, if you do not eat whole-grain bread for no reason, you automatically avoid healthy fiber, which is also important for a healthy heart and has a positive influence on blood pressure.

Ingredients in gluten-free foods

For example, many gluten-free foods contain starch, corn, sugar, fat, thickeners, and ascorbic acid. The ingredients should ensure a pleasant consistency or serve as preservatives.

Compared to conventional gluten-containing products, vitamins and fiber, such as vitamin B 12, zinc, folic acid and magnesium, are often lacking.

Expensive gluten-free substitutes

Gluten-free foods are more expensive than their equivalent gluten-containing foods. In a sample, Markt compared the prices of six gluten-free and gluten-free products, including fish fingers, pasta and biscuits. Markt found the biggest price difference in sliced ​​bread: the same amount of bread cost more than five times as much in the gluten-free version.

Causes of price differences

Gluten-free products cost more because the selection of raw materials and cleaning processes in production are more complex. Nevertheless, the German Celiac Society finds it unfair that celiac sufferers have to pay more for their food than people without celiac disease. Financial support is available for Hartz IV recipients and for people with a degree of disability of 30 percent - but celiac disease is only recognized with a degree of 20 percent.

The National Association of Health Insurance Funds rejects the request for subsidies. At the request of the market, the association writes that gluten-free food is "not a medicine". According to a ruling by the Federal Social Court, the statutory health insurances only pay for measures "that specifically serve to combat illness. Additional costs (...) that the insured person has in daily life because of the illness are to be added to the general standard of living".

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Visit | 05.10.2020 | 8:15 pm