For those of you that know me personally, you will have heard all about my personal struggles with Coeliac disease. My path to a correct diagnosis was unnecessarily delayed. My Mother has Coeliac disease; after living Gluten Free for 8 years I feel I am qualified to offer advice on the topic. My journey stresses the importance of getting early and accurate testing.
Starting tomorrow, it is Coeliac Awareness Week in Australia, which aims to help promote the disease. Did you know that 4 out of 5 people don’t know that they have it, scary huh? Have a look at the Australian Coeliac Society website for information.
Also see Coeliac Awareness Week for more information.
What is Coeliac Disease?
Coeliac disease is a condition where your body reacts to a protein (Gluten), found in wheat, oats*, barley and rye. When ingested, gluten wreaks havoc on the small intestine, by causing destruction to little finger like projections in the lining. Theses projections are essential for absorbing nutrients such as Iron, Calcium, B12 and for general bowel health.
Why is it important for an accurate coeliac Disease?
Coeliac disease is an autoimmune disease, meaning your body starts to attack itself, mainly in the small intestine. When this happens, you may not be absorbing critical nutrients such as Iron and Calcium. Malabsorption leaves you at risk of for developing osteoporosis and anaemia. If left undetected, Coeliac disease can develop in to bowel cancer in the long term. For this reason, it is vital to get tested if you are suffering any of the symptoms.
Coeliac Disease Symptoms
For a checklist of symptoms, click here.
If you think you may have one or a few of the symptoms, visit your GP. Your GP can order specific blood tests and arrange referral to a Gastroenterologist where necessary. A
small bowel biopsy is currently the gold standard in a definitive diagnosis of Coeliac disease.
There is currently no treatment of cure for the disease. Management involves strict adherence to a gluten free diet for life. With careful planning and education, you will find that there is an abundance of gluten free food.
For anyone with Coeliac disease, you will have noticed a change in Gluten Free foods in the last five years. Food labelling laws in Australia make it easy to identify suitable products, by showing the Gluten Free symbol.
Don’t forget that plenty of foods are naturally Gluten Free and won’t carry the symbol. These include meat, dairy, fruits and vegetables, but always check labels to make sure.