Gluten intolerance

What is it….

A gluten intolerance or food intolerance is when you are unable to digest certain foods leading to a unpleasent reaction to them.

A gluten intolerance is not an gluten allergy nor is it a autoimmune reaction to gluten like Coeliac disease.

Unlike a allergy, a gluten intolerance does not cause an allergic reaction and there for is not life threatening but can be a big change to your lifestyle.

What causes an intolerance….

It is not always clear to why someone has or develops a food intolernace.

It is thought that those intolerant to gluten its not the actual gluten or wheat itself that the issues is but something related to the gluten

“Otherwise, the culprit may be a food additive, chemical or contaminant, such as:

– Monosodium glutamate (MSG)

– Caffeine

– Alcohol

– Artificial sweeteners

– Histamine (found in Quorn, mushrooms, pickled and cured foods, and alcoholic drinks)

– Toxins, viruses, bacteria or parasites that have contaminated food

– Artificial food colours, preservatives or flavour enhancers”


Like most gastrointestinal (GI) issues symptoms can differ between people but most are often mild.

Gluten intolerances can be diagnosed whilst investigating another issues. Even with the mildest of symptoms treatment maybe required.

Gluten intolerance can also be diagnosed and the cause of other symptoms seemily not related , for example skin issues.

Common symptoms:

  • Stomach cramps or pain
  • Bloating
  • Wind
  • Diarrhoea

Gluten intolerance can also cause skin irritation and rashes.

Intolerance symptoms tend to start after eating more substantial amounts of gluten rather than and allergy symptoms which can arise after a small amount digested.

Could my intolerance be something else?….

If you believe you are having issues with gluten please seek medical advice as soon as you can for investigations.

Other conditions can display the same symptoms as gluten intolerance:


When you visit your GP you must make sure you tell them everything; small details you may not believe are important maybe helpful in diagnosis.

Initally GP may suggest a food elimination diet if your symptoms are not to severe. This is where you will be asked to eliminate foods that could be potentially causing issues from your diet for 2 to 6 weeks.

Once your symptoms have disapeared you will be asked to re-introduce the foods once at a time and document any reactions.

You may be refered to a specialist if your symptoms are not reducing with elimination or are becoming worse.

After the diagnosis….

If you have been informed you have a gluten intolerance the only way to fully manage your symptoms is to remove gluten out of your diet completly or once eliminated for several week re-introduce in small amount to assess how much gluten you can manage before symptom set in.

Some people with intolerance are able to manage smaller amounts of gluten without any major symptoms.

If you are having to restrict your diet due to food intolerances it is suggested that you speak to a dietitian as some allergens stopped may impact your health.

Like all food allergies, intolerances or Coeliacs dieases label checking is super important. Knowing what ingredents are in your foods will help manage symptoms.

Be aware of the additives and extras added to pre-prepared foods and the statment “may contain”. “May contains” does not guarentee cross contamination has occured therefor may contain gluten.

“Under EU law, any pre-packed food or drink sold in the UK must clearly state on the label if it contains any of these 14 ingredients that can cause an allergy”

Allergens are now often highlighted in bold but not always.

Find out more about what is gluten here and how do I know is something gluten free here.