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What is a gluten-free diet?

In Switzerland, about 1% of the population suffers from gluten intolerance. Those affected can suffer disorders of the digestive tract if they eat cereal-based products. However, the range of foods which sufferers can eat is not as limited as you might think. Here is what to look out for if you require a gluten-free diet.

If you suffer from gluten intolerance – or coeliac disease – the consumption of cereal-based products containing gluten proteins can damage the mucous lining of the small intestine. The small intestine cannot process the protein and becomes inflamed if it comes into contact with it. The symptoms range from diarrhoea and stomach pain to bloating; in children with coeliac disease the consumption of gluten can even lead to arrested growth or a delay in the onset of puberty. A doctor should always be consulted if gluten intolerance is suspected.

No need to avoid pasta etc.
A diagnosis of coeliac disease means that you will have to modify your diet. Since the gluten proteins in question are found in many different cereals (e.g. wheat, rye, spelt and barley), you have to be careful in your choice of bread or pasta, but there is no need to avoid these foods completely. More and more retail outlets have begun stocking gluten-free products including pasta, baking mixes and even beer.

Be careful when buying spices and ready-made products
We recommend natural foodstuffs such as fruit and vegetables, but you can also safely eat maize, rice, millet, quinoa, buckwheat and nuts. Unprocessed meat and fish can also be eaten, as can natural dairy products.

Gluten often occurs in foodstuffs where you might not expect to find it. You should exercise caution when buying ready-made products, many types of seasoning and, by extension, seasoned foodstuffs. It's worth looking closely at the list of ingredients before placing an item in your trolley.

The trend towards a gluten-free lifestyle
Eating a gluten-free diet has become something of a trend in recent years. The jury is still out on whether a gluten-free diet has any real benefits for those who do not suffer from coeliac disease. Whatever the benefits, real or imagined, coeliac sufferers can take advantage of the increased range of gluten-free foodstuffs that have become available.

sante24 – the free health advice helpline
Because you are insured with SWICA, you are entitled to contact the doctors and medical staff at sante24 for free expert advice on health issues at any time. Tel. +41 (0)44 404 86 86