1) What is Coeliac Disease ?
Coeliac is digestive order caused by an immune reaction to eating gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye.
Over time, the immune reaction to eating gluten creates inflammation that damages or destroys the villi leading to medical complications. Villi are tiny finger-like protrusions inside the small intestines, when they are damaged or destroyed this prevents the body to absorb some nutrients from food (malabsorption). This can lead to malnutrition and other serious health complications.
According to Coeliac Australia 1 in 70 Australian’s have coeliac disease, with 4 out of 5 undiagnosed. People with celiac disease need to eliminate all forms of gluten from their diet. This includes most bread products, baked goods, beer, and foods where gluten may be used as a stabilizing ingredient.
2) What are the symptoms?
On of the classic symptoms is diarrhoea. Other symptoms include:
- Iron deficiency
- Skin disorders
- Foul smelling, pale or fatty stools
- Low blood count (anaemia)
Many people have no symptoms at all, therefore so many people go undiagnosed.
3) Is there a cure for coeliac disease?
Treatment can help, but this condition cannot be cured. People with coeliac disease remain sensitive to gluten throughout their lives. There is hope though, with a diet that is strictly gluten-free this can help manage symptoms of the disease. Abstaining from gluten can also help to heal the intestinal lining.
4) How is coeliac disease diagnosed?
Diagnoses starts with your GP. They will perform a series of test to confirm the diagnosis. This can be blood, liver function, cholesterol, alkaline phosphate tests. In some cases where these tests are inconclusive an upper endoscopy is needed. According to the Victorian Government Better Health website an endoscopy is a medical procedure that allows a doctor to observe the inside of your body without operating. An endoscope is a long flexible tube with a video camera on one end and a lens to view on the other end.
5) What are the long-term risks if I go undiagnosed or untreated?
There are many risks to your health if you go undiagnosed and untreated, some of these are chronic inflammation, poor nutrition, malabsorption.
6) I have been diagnosed with coeliac disease, what now?
Maintaining a strict gluten-free diet has never been easier! With so many gluten-free products on the market, gluten-free options at many restaurants and gluten-free bakeries, you have many options when out and about. When you have coeliac disease it is important to be diligent in knowing which foods are ‘safe’ to eat and which foods to avoid.
Avoid ingredients such as:
- Graham flour
Avoid unless the label says gluten-free:
- Cakes and pies
- Imitation meats or seafood
- Processed lunch meats, sausages, and hot dogs
- Salad dressings
- Sauces (includes soy sauce)
You can eat these gluten-free grains and starches:
- Flour Made From Rice, Soy, Corn, Potatoes, Or Beans
- Pure Corn Tortillas
Healthy, gluten-free foods include:
- Fresh Meats, Fish, And Poultry That Have No Coatings Or Are Marinated
- Most Dairy Products
- Starchy Vegetables Like Peas, Potatoes, Including Sweet Potatoes, And Corn
- Rice, Beans, And Lentils
- Wine, Distilled Liquors, Ciders, And Spirits
You should see improvement with your symptoms within a few days to a few weeks after switching to a strict gluten-free diet. Children heal quicker than adults and their intestines should start healing within three-six months. In adults this may take several years. Once your intestines are completely healed your body should be able to absorb nutrients from your food properly.
Glo Health has a full suite of clinics above our amazing store. We have some great Naturopaths, and health professionals that can help you navigate the new adventure of going gluten free in a healthy and natural way.