Did you know approximately 1 in a 100 people have have coeliac disease? However, 70% of those people don’t know they have it – which is currently nearly half a million people in the UK. This is because people with milder cases often go undiagnosed. That’s a staggering number, isn’t it?
Many more people have heard of coeliac disease these days, but there is still a lack of awareness of what it is and what the symptoms are.
So What is Coeliac Disease?
Coeliac Disease is more than gluten intolerance (this is a reaction to the protein in gluten which leads to symptoms such as pain or bloating) or a sensitivity (which is a much more delayed reaction – often with reactions displaying after a day or days of eating gluten – with symptoms such as joint pain or brain fog). Instead, coeliac disease is a health condition where the immune system reacts negatively to gluten consumption by attacking the small intestine and causing damage to it. This leads to a range of symptoms (over 200 in total) including diarrhoea or constipation, abdominal pain, bloating and flatulence, but it also means that nutrients can’t be absorbed properly, which leads to further long term health issues. So someone with coeliac disease may also suffer with tiredness and fatigue, weight loss, an itchy rash, issues with infertiity, nerve damage, and disorders that affect co-ordination, balance and speech. Someone with coeliac disease might also find they get mouth ulcers a lot.
It’s important to get a diagnosis for coeliac disease if you suspect you have it – even if you have mild symptoms – because it can lead to problems with malnutrition, especially in children, who may not grow as expected, or have delays in puberty.
There is no cure for coeliac disease, but following a gluten free diet helps to control symptoms and prevent any long-term complications. Long term complications can include liver disease, osteoporosis or iron, vitamin B12 and folate deficiency anaemia.
Who is at Risk of Developing Coeliac Disease?
People most at risk are those with other autoimmune diseases, such as Type 1 diabetes, and also those with Down’s or Turner’s Syndrome, and the time the condition is most likely to develop is between 8-12 months of age, and between the ages of 40-60 years of age.
What Can I Eat on a Gluten Free Diet?
It can be a little tricky at first getting used to eating gluten free foods as you have to get used to reading and fully understanding ingredients labels, but gluten free products are more freely available these days, and it’s possible to get a gluten free version of most of your favourite foods. People quickly get used to the changes they have to make, and eating out isn’t a huge problem – just make sure to tell your waiting staff so they can ensure there is no cross-contamination of your food.
The problem I find with gluten-free products is that in most cases they are unhealthy, being high in sugar and additives, and low in essential nutrients and fibre (important for a healthy gut and immune system). Therefore, it’s crucial to focus on a varied and healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables and healthy fats and proteins. Wherever possible, eat fresh.
For more help and direction, Coeliac UK is a wealth of information and contains a great gluten free checklist to help with choosing the right foods: https://www.coeliac.org.uk/document-library/6679-gluten-free-checklist-january-2020/
There are also lots of gluten free cookbooks available. I recommend Deliciously Ella, who offers a host of healthy plant-based recipes to titillate your tastebuds that are easy to cook:
What if I Still Have Symptoms?
One thing to consider is that in some cases, those with coeliac disease find they’ve cut out gluten, only to find their symptoms aren’t any better. It’s important in these cases to see a registered nutrition practitioner who can help you to find the root cause of your symptoms. You may be reacting to other foods or there may be another gut-related issue. It’s also a good idea to see if your gluten-free diet is meeting all your nutrition and lifestyle needs.
What Can I Eat on a Gluten Free Diet?
Some meal ideas for you!
Gluten Free Porridge oats with almond milk, banana, blueberries and sprinkling of pumpkin seeds.
or Buckwheat pancakes with maple syrup and strawberries
Butternut squash soup with lentil flatbread
Baked Potato with Whole Earth Baked Beans and Salad
3 bean chilli with rice
Mushroom stroganoff with buckwheat pasta
If I need more information about your nutritional therapy services, where can I find out more?
My website is: www.truetoyourhealthuk.org – you’ll find all the information you need here.
You can also book a 30 minute health review to discuss your needs and my services in greater depth.