Coeliac Disease is very often misunderstood as it is widely regarded as an allergy. It is in fact a lifelong autoimmune disease which affects the gut and other parts of the body. It is caused by an inflammatory response to gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye; some people are also affected by oats. Gluten is what gives bread its elasticity and makes cakes springy but unfortunately even the tiniest amount causes problems for Coeliacs.
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What Are The Symptoms?
Coeliac sufferers are sensitive to the presence of this protein in the digestive system. The small intestine is lined with little finger-like projections called Villi. These increase the surface area of the intestine and allow essential nutrients to be absorbed. When gluten comes into contact with the Villi of people with Coeliac Disease the immune system attacks them which very quickly results in damage to the body with varying degrees of severity.
Symptoms vary from person to person – diarrhoea, fatigue and iron deficiency stem directly from the malabsorption of nutrients but other symptoms include: bloating, abdominal paints, nausea, headaches, weight loss, skin rash, hair loss, defective tooth enamel and problems with fertility.
Gluten Free Only!
Coeliac Disease is entirely manageable by following a gluten free diet – the most obvious sources of gluten are pastas, cereals, bread, flour, cakes, pastry & biscuits. But there is plenty of food that can be eaten provided it is not contaminated. All fresh meat, fish and vegetables are gluten free as are dairy products, eggs, rice and pulses to name but a few. Strict adherence to the gluten free diet will allow the intestine to heal, relieving all symptoms and eliminating the risk of osteoporosis and intestinal cancer.