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Gluten Free Living

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, November 05, 2015

Following a gluten free diet has become much more popular and widespread, over recent years. A report by USA Today, for example, found that as many as one in four people were now attempting to live gluten free. In this feature, we will explore the differences between gluten sensitivity and coeliac disease and take a look at hints and tips for living gluten free, with the minimum of fuss.

What is Gluten?

But, first, what exactly is this gluten that we hear so much about? Gluten is the protein that is found in the grains – like wheat and barley and rye – that feature heavily in the everyday diets of so many of us. Think of all the bread and pasta and breakfast cereals that our families consume on a daily basis.

Many people report feeling bloated and sluggish after a particularly gluten rich meal, leading them to make a lifestyle choice of avoiding the protein wherever possible. Experts now believe that mild symptoms, like these, could be due to a sensitivity to gluten. The British Medical Journal does warn against self-diagnosis, though, because such symptoms could be down to something more serious, like coeliac disease.

Coeliac Disease

For people with coeliac disease - an autoimmune response to gluten – exclusion, for life, is the only treatment for the condition. It is estimated that around one percent of the population is affected by the condition. According to the NHS, “Reported cases of coeliac disease are two to three times higher in women than men and can develop at any age, although symptoms are most likely to develop during early childhood and in later adulthood.”

Coeliac disease – because it irritates and then subsequently damages the lining of the gut - causes painful diarrhoea that, in turn, can lead to weight loss, anaemia, extreme tiredness and even osteoporosis. (Why not take a look at our features on bone health, to find out more about this?). A gluten free diet allows the gut to heal and for the symptoms to improve.

Gluten Free Choices

The good news is that a gluten free diet doesn't have to be too restrictive. Many foods – like meat and fish, rice and potatoes, vegetables and fruit – can still be enjoyed as part of a healthy, balanced diet. Cafes and restaurants are now much more geared up towards offering a gluten free choice. And the even better news is that prunes are a naturally gluten free food – a serving of prunes or a glass of prune juice can be included in a gluten free diet. You can also add them to your favourite coeliac-friendly recipes for a sweet and fruity twist.

Need some inspiration?

Check out our recipe pages where we’ve recently added new gluten free recipes like Light Prune Focaccia, Dense Chocolate Cake, Homemade Lemon and Poppy Seed Cake … no need to compromise on taste 

We recommend you seek medical advice before making dietary changes.