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Scand J Gastroenterol. 1999 Aug;34(8):784-9.

Dietary analysis in symptomatic patients with coeliac disease on a gluten-free diet: the role of trace amounts of gluten and non-gluten food intolerances.

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Dept. of Clinical Immunology, and AW Morrow Gastroenterology and Liver Centre, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney, NSW, Australia.



Whereas many people with coeliac disease (CD) are asymptomatic when consuming a gluten-free diet (GFD), a proportion continues to experience symptoms. The reasons for this are unclear.


Thirty-nine adult members of The Coeliac Society of New South Wales, all of whom had persistent gastrointestinal symptoms despite adhering to a GFD, were evaluated. Dietary analysis indicated that 22 (56%) were consuming a GFD as defined by the WHO/FAO Codex Alimentarius (Codex-GFD), in which foods containing up to 0.3% of protein from gluten-containing grains can be labelled as 'gluten free'. The remaining 17 were following a no detectable gluten diet (NDG)-GFD, as defined by Food Standards Australia. All subjects were required to follow a NDG-GFD during the study. Those in whom symptoms persisted after changing from a Codex-GFD and those who entered the study already on a NDG-GFD began an elimination diet followed by open and double-blind challenges to identify specific non-gluten food or food chemical intolerances.


Of 22 patients who switched to a NDG-GFD symptoms resolved in 5 (23%) and were reduced in 10 others (45%). Thirty-one subjects commenced the elimination diet. Symptomatic improvement was experienced in 24 (77%). Subsequent food or food chemical challenges resulted in a mean of five positive challenges per individual. Diarrhoea was the most commonly provoked symptom, followed by headache, nausea, and flatulence. Symptoms were especially provoked by amine, salicylate and soy.


The consumption of trace amounts of gluten, traditionally allowed in a Codex-GFD, may be responsible for the continuing symptoms seen in some patients with CD. Further investigation for non-gluten food intolerances should follow if symptoms persist after adherence to a NDG-GFD.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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