The gluten-free market is now worth a massive £ ½ bn in the top 6 retailers alone, and has doubled in size over the last 5 years, while the grocery market has remained flat. Two thirds of UK households now buy into the gluten-free market with both gluten sensitives and those reportedly seeking a more healthy lifestyle buying in greater numbers over the last 5 years.
Who should eat gluten free?
For those suffering from coeliac disease, an autoimmune condition affecting 1% of the UK population, a strict gluten-free diet is a life-long necessity to relieve symptoms and avoid long-term health complications including osteoporosis and infertility. Sufferers of a condition known as ‘non-coeliac gluten sensitivity’ (NCGS) often experience similar symptoms to those with untreated coeliac disease, including abdominal pain, nausea, altered bowel habits, lethargy and severe headaches. The prevalence of NCGS is unknown but is likely to be in the region of 3-6%, and unlike those with coeliac disease, it seems that NCGS sufferers are able to tolerate small amounts of gluten within their diet without long-term ill effects.
A recent UK population-based survey conducted by the University of Sheffield, found that 33% of the general public reported symptoms when they consume gluten. Of these, 11% were actively following a gluten-free diet to relieve symptoms such as bloating, abdominal pain, tiredness, flatulence, constipation and diarrhoea. This suggests that more people than those with diagnosed coeliac disease and NCGS are finding relief from following a gluten-free diet.
A further group of individuals who may fall in to this category are those suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). IBS is a common gut condition that affects 10-20% of the UK population. IBS is often a long-term condition but symptoms vary in severity over time, typically including bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhoea and constipation. For some sufferers, symptoms may be extremely debilitating, often leading to poor mental health and anxiety. Ninety percent of IBS sufferers report one or more food triggers for their symptoms, hence it’s unsurprising that the core treatment for this condition is dietary modification. For those who fail to improve following simple changes such as adopting a regular meal pattern and reducing their intake of fatty, spicy foods, alcohol and caffeine, an approach known as the Low FODMAP diet may improve symptoms for around 70% of sufferers, when delivered by a trained dietitian. The low FODMAP diet requires the removal of foods that contain various types of fermentable carbohydrates, including fructans that are found abundantly in wheat (and therefore gluten) – containing foods. The low FODMAP diet therefore advocates the removal of wheat-based foods and the use of gluten-free alternatives.
What makes Schär different?
Schär has over 30 years’ experience in producing high quality, delicious gluten-free foods. This experience, alongside a unique collaboration with healthcare professionals and researchers from around the world, guarantees Schär’s commitment to safety and complete allergen control at every stage in the production process. Long-term relationships with a small number of dedicated growers, contamination free transport, followed by additional quality and safety tests in Schär’s own factory-based laboratories ensure that only the highest quality, guaranteed gluten-free products are delivered to consumers, with full ingredient traceability from farm to fork.
The last decade has seen a dramatic change in the quality and nutritional content of gluten-free food products. Schär has led the way in these advancements via its dedicated research and development centre in Trieste, Italy. Twenty years of research within this facility has resulted in a variety of important developments, including the production of commercial-scale gluten-free sour doughs and the incorporation of whole flours of high nutritional value, in place of simple, refined starches. Dr Schär is proud to use a diverse mix of alternative grains and pseudocereals within its product portfolio, including millet, buckwheat, oats, sorghum and quinoa. Schär’s long-term investment in research also extends to external health-related projects and healthcare professional education, leading to developments in the diagnosis, management and treatment of gluten-related disorders around the world.
Top tips for a gluten-free lifestyle
If you think you have symptoms related to eating gluten, never embark on a gluten-free diet without first being tested for coeliac disease by your GP. If you want to check whether your symptoms might be related to gluten, try Schär’s free symptom checker https://www.schaer.com/en-uk/help-center/symptom-test
Not all gluten-free brands are the same
The nutritional content of gluten-free products varies considerably between brands. Try to compare 2 or 3 similar products from different brands to see which one offers the healthiest ingredient and nutritional profile.
Healthy eating principles still apply!
If you’re following a gluten-free diet, try to follow the same healthy eating advice that applies to the general population; eat regularly, base your meals on higher fibre starchy carbs, aim for 5 portions of fruit and veg every day, and cut back of foods that are high in sugar, salt and saturated fat.
Variety is the spice of life!
Eating a varied diet ensures that you’re getting the right nutrients. Include a variety of naturally gluten-free and specialist gluten-free products. Don’t be afraid to experiment with less familiar gluten-free carbs, such as quinoa (great in soups, stews and salads) or sweet potatoes and cassava (a great alternative to regular potatoes if you’re becoming tired of the same meals).
For more information visit www.schaer.com