Gluten: All you need to know

The medical treatment for those diagnosed with coeliac disease and gluten sensitivity is a diet free of foods which contain gluten, a protein compound found in wheat, rye and barley. 

What about oats?

Oats contain a protein which is structurally similar to gluten which may cause adverse effects in some individuals with coeliac disease.  Oats are also often cross-contaminated with gluten during processing and distribution.  So consult with your medical professional before including oats in a gluten-free diet.

Here's what to look out for:

Do contain gluten

Wheat, rye, barley, durum wheat, wheat germ, whole wheat flour and heirloom grains (like: spelt, couscous, semolina, kamut, farina, triticale). Some food additives such as starch, vegetable protein and vegetable starch may have traces of wheat.

May contain gluten

Bread and baked products, cereals, processed foods, battered foods, pizza, pasta, puddings, gravies, sauces, stuffing, baking powder, processed meats (burgers, sausages, ham and other cold meats), soy sauce, matzo, gravy, soups, malt, communion wafers, stock cubes, beer, liquorice and, some medicines.

Gluten-free substitutes

Maize or corn, corn flour, buckwheat, millet, sago, tapioca, quinoa, sorghum, potato flour, rice flour, soya flour, arrowroot, chickpea flour, lentil flour, heirloom grains (like: amaranth, teff, flax, polenta) and almond flour.
Now that you know what to look out for, take care to always read ingredient labels.

Starting a gluten-free diet? 

Before embarking on a gluten-free diet ensure that diagnosis is made by a qualified medical professional specialising in allergies and intolerances.  This avoids unnecessary dietary restrictions and potential nutritional deficiencies.

If you need to restrict gluten in your diet, Woolworths offers a wide range of gluten-free baked goods and pasta.  

This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult a qualified health practitioner registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa. To locate a dietitian in your area go to