Gluten-free products must address celiac metabolic disorders, warns researcher

By Kacey Culliney

- Last updated on GMT

'Manufacturers need to better understand celiac patients’ needs, in terms of metabolism and functional complexity,' nutrition expert says
'Manufacturers need to better understand celiac patients’ needs, in terms of metabolism and functional complexity,' nutrition expert says

Related tags Nutrition

Gluten-free manufacturers should develop products according to metabolic disorders common among celiacs; improving the nutritional profile and lowering glycemic load, says a nutrition expert.

A review published in the Journal of Medicinal Food​ investigated common metabolic disorders among celiacs and made several key recommendations on how these could be managed, beyond a gluten-free diet.

The Italian researchers said obesity, lipid metabolism, nutritional deficiencies and compromised gallbladder and intestinal function were among a host of metabolic disorders facing celiacs.

They said these could be managed in a number of ways. For example: by increasing vegetable oil intake to better manage fat consumption; better monitoring of nickel, folate and iron intake and increased ascorbic and citric acid intake to manage nutritional deficiencies; opting for high-calcium foods in place of milk to cope with intolerances; and eating high-fiber, low glycemic load gluten-free foods to reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome.

Sara Farnetti, lead author and medicine specialist for nutrition and metabolism pathophysiology, said these recommendations had significant implications for gluten-free manufacturers.

“These findings could play an important role in improving gluten-free products and making them safer,”​ she told

“Manufacturers need to better understand celiac patients’ needs, in terms of metabolism and functional complexity,”​ she said.

Relevant health for celiacs

Developing gluten-free products that considered metabolic disorders common among celiacs could have a double advantage, Farnetti said. Commercially, it enabled additional on-pack claims and practically, it better met the specific health needs celiac consumers, she said.

The products could also help overweight consumers or those with allergies or irritable bowel syndrome, she added.

“First of all, manufacturers have to receive some guidelines to make low glycemic load gluten-free products instead of high glycemic load gluten-free products which impair glucose and lipid metabolism and insulin secretion in these patients,”​ she said.

Gluten-free products could also be developed taking into account nickel, ossalic and fitic load as well as mineral content, she added.

Fortifying baked goods with specialized vitamin and mineral blends that targeted celiac metabolic disorders could be a future direction, she said.

A warning on fat and preservatives

Another point gluten-free manufacturers had to address was the fat content and choice of fat, Farnetti warned. “The choice of fat they use to make the products has big health implications; they have to choose carefully with the help of an expert consultant,”​ she said.

Extra virgin olive oil was the best option in managing metabolic disorders associated with celiac disease, including compromised gallbladder function, she suggested.

Gluten-free manufacturers should also better consider each ingredient in the product, she said. “[They] could improve the quality and the choices of the main ingredients of their products… They can offer better products using new substances instead of some preservatives or binding agents.”


Source: Journal of Medicinal Food
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1089/jmf.2014.0025. November 2014, Volume 17, Pages 1-6
“Functional and Metabolic Disorders in Celiac Disease: New Implications for Nutritional Treatment”
Authors: S. Farnetti, M. Assunta Zocco, M. Garcovich, A. Gasbarrini and E. Capristo

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