Are you a secret coeliac sufferer?

By YOU
11 May 2017

Intolerance to gluten is a real health problem for those diagnosed with coeliac disease.

Gluten-free diets have become ubiquitous with health and fitness, but intolerance to gluten is a real health problem for those diagnosed with coeliac disease.

While symptoms can be similar, there is a difference between being gluten intolerant and having coeliac disease. Those who have the coeliac disease will experience their immune systems attacking healthy body tissue and damaging the gut if they’re exposed to gluten, while gluten intolerance involves a different reaction that could still involve the immune system, but doesn’t cause internal damage.

There are more than 200 symptoms of the coeliac disease but the more common ones are abdominal bloating and pain, chronic diarrhoea, vomiting, constipation, weight loss and fatigue. A number of people are suffering from the coeliac disease has been undiagnosed or misdiagnosed because it's similar to irritable bowel syndrome.

Read more: The good news about going gluten-free

The only treatment for the disease is a strict gluten-free diet, consisting of only foods and beverages with a gluten content less than 20 parts per million.

To raise awareness for Coeliac Awareness Week, gastroenterologist Professor David Sanders and Schär dietitian Katie Kennedy have explained how to go about getting diagnosed if you suspect you may have coeliac disease or gluten intolerance.

Diagnosis

If you have any symptoms, you should discuss your concerns with your GP who may carry out a blood test to check for coeliac disease.

If gluten intolerance is suspected, and once the coeliac disease has been excluded, an elimination diet is likely to be recommended.

Read more: Allergy meds to treat IBS?

Treatment

The only treatment is to follow a strict gluten-free diet, which means avoiding all foods that contain gluten.

“For most people, following this diet will reduce or alleviate symptoms, heal existing intestinal damage, and help to prevent associated complications," explains Professor Sanders.

Going gluten free

Do your research.

"Make sure you eat meals based on gluten-free starchy foods (including potatoes, rice, gluten-free breads and pasta) and also include a range of low-fat protein- rich foods such as lean meat, fish, poultry, eggs and pulses, and of course aim to eat your 5 portions of fruit and veg a day," advises dietician Kennedy.

Read labels carefully

Allergens, including gluten-containing cereals, will always be highlighted within the ingredients list, but make sure you check food products carefully before eating.

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