The Coeliac's Diet
Coeliac disease, also known as coeliac sprue is a condition affecting the small intestine. It is a type of inflammatory disease that is caused the body is unable to digest gluten. Gluten is found in rye, barley and wheat. This in turn causes it to damage the intestinal lining, leading to poor absorption of vital nutrients including folate, iron, calcium, and some vitamins. Coeliac disease is also linked to several different disorders of the auto-immune system. Coeliac patients have also been reported to suffer from sarcoidosis, diabetes mellitus, arthritis, pulmonary fibrosis, thyroid disease and vasculitis. Coeliac sufferers are also prone to certain types of tumour of the bowel.
Celiac disease often goes undiagnosed. This happens for several reasons:
- The presence of other diseases mask the symptoms
- Many laboratories in the UK are unable to test for the disease
- Many doctors are unaware of all the symptoms of Coeliac disease
SymptomsSymptoms of coeliac disease may range from mild to severe, and can include: bloating, diarrhoea, nausea, fatigue, constipation, anaemia, mouth sores, headaches, hair loss, skin problems, short stature, depression, and joint pain, skin rashes or swelling of the joints.
DiagnosisYour general practitioner can take a simple blood test to check for two specific types of antibody tissue transglutaminase antibodies and andomysal antibodies, though it should be remembered that it is sometimes possible to have a negative blood test yet still have coeliac disease. Your doctor will then refer you to a hospital specialist, a gastroenterologist, for a biopsy of the gut. This involves a flexible viewing tube, known as an endoscope, being passed via your mouth down into the small intestine (this can be done using local anaesthetic on the throat). A small tissue sample will be collected, and then examined under a microscope to check for abnormalities.
The Coeliac DietThere is currently no available medication or treatment to prevent your body from attacking your stomach when gluten is present. The only solution is to change your diet completely. After diagnosis you should commence a gluten-free diet. This comprises of complete treatment. Although there are many foods that contain gluten, there are many more available that do not. Many coeliac sufferers also suffer from anaemia. It is usually due to iron deficiency, although it could also be due to folic acid or vitamin B12 deficiency. To ensure a good intake of iron include nuts, lentils, pulses, lentils, and cruciferous vegetables daily in your diet. Have fruit juice instead of tea or coffee as its vitamin C content will help you to absorb iron.
Gluten-free foodsCereals and flours- Arrowroot, buckwheat, corn/maize, rice , sago, tapioca, soya,
Dairy products & eggs - Eggs, milk, cream, butter, cheese, and soya products
Puddings - Custard, sago, rice, tapioca
Beverages - Regular tea, coffee, herbal teas, soda, fruit juice.
Fruit & vegetables- All fresh fruits and vegetables.
Nuts, seeds and legumes - Are all gluten free
A very small minority of people with this type of disorder suffer from refractory disease. This is when symptoms do not ease even on a gluten-free diet. This could be caused when the intestinal lining has become so damaged from long term coeliac that it is unable to heal. In this instance steroids may be prescribed.