By Gemma Craven
Nutrionist – Life in Balance Nutrition
Have you ever wondered if you suffer from Coeliac’s disease, but have just never had it tested?
Only a staggering 10-15% of those suffering with Coeliac’s disease actually know they have it 1, so how do you know if you have it or not? Sometimes the symptoms would not be what you think and can be masked by other issues.
What exactly is Coeliac’s disease?
It is classed as an intestinal disease caused by an intolerance of gluten where villous in the small intestine flatten and cause maldigestion and malabsorption of most nutrients and vitamins, and is very damaging to the body long term. It is a common autoimmune disorder with onset at any age and presenting with different symptoms in all sufferers 3.
The most common and obvious symptoms to look for are:
- Abdominal pain
- Weight loss
- Dental enamels
However, the symptoms can often be unusual such as:
- Short stature (due to malabsorption)
- Muscle cramps
- Excessive bleeding after injury
- Slow healing of wounds
The disease is often accompanied or masked by:
- Iron/folate deficiency
- Lactose intolerance
Often being a hereditary disease passed down the family, if untreated it can increase deaths four to five fold in sufferers. The damage that gluten causes in a celiac suffer leads to nutrient, mineral and dietary deficiencies, particularly deficiencies of vitamin B12, folic acid and fat-soluble vitamins 2. If dairy intolerance is also present the density of bones is severely decreased 4.
Unfortunately, gluten is found in up to 70% of manufactured food products and can also be found in oats and barley, however, ingestion of these products is usually safe for sufferers 4. After diagnosis of Coeliac’s disease, a life long avoidance of gluten is recommended 2.
If you are experiencing one or more of these symptoms I would highly recommend seeing your GP and discuss being tested. It is very important to be tested, as continual consumption when you are a sufferer of Coeliac’s disease is very damaging to the body.
If you are diagnosed it is a good idea to see a nutritionist or dietitian to assist in correcting your diet, to accommodate the gluten intolerance and to make sure you body is still getting the nutrients it requires.
Maintaining a gluten free diet is not the end of the world and I have some great gluten free recipes you can check out in the delicious recipes section.
- Atlas of Dermatological Manifestation of Gastrointestinal Disease. 2013;.
- Holtmeier W, Caspary W. Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases. 2006;1(1):3.
- Volta U, Villanacci V. Celiac disease: diagnostic criteria in progress. Cellular and Molecular Immunology. 2011;8(2):96-102.
- Garcia-Manzanares ALucendo A. Nutritional and Dietary Aspects of Celiac Disease. Nutrition in Clinical Practice. 2011;26(2):163-173.
- Guandalini SAssiri A. Celiac Disease. JAMA Pediatrics. 2014;168(3):272.
Republished from Life in Balance Nutrition, with the permission of Gemma Craven.