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Coeliac Disease 
Also in this section: Lactose Milk Wheat 
Coeliac Disease, also called ‘gluten-sensitive enteropathy’ or ‘coeliac sprue’ is a serious and surprisingly common condition that occurs when gluten (a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye reacts with the small intestine causing the immune system to attack, inflame and eventually destroy the delicate lining of the bowel thereby reducing the ability of the gut to absorb necessary nutrients from food. It is estimated that approximately 1 in 100 people suffer the condition and if left untreated, as well as causing great discomfort, can cause anaemia, bone disease and even some forms of cancer. People with insulin dependent diabetes, thyroid problems and ulcerative colitis have an increased chance of developing coeliac disease and in 2004 a study carried out by Bristol University reported that as many as 1 in 100 children may have Coeliac disease. Symptoms can include irritability, tiredness, depression, anaemia, diarrhea, bloating, bone pain, mouth ulcers or itchy skin rash (dermitiis herpetiformis) particularly around the elbows, buttocks or knees and hair loss. 
 
The good news is that the disease can be diagnosed with a simple blood test from you GP and then controlled by avoiding eating gluten – even a tiny trace of wheat or gluten can cause serious illness. A true gluten free diet reduces all complications and can lead to a complete recovery of the damaged small intestine. Suitable foods for a gluten free diet are rice, corn (maize), tapioca, buckwheat, potato, quinoa, arrowroot, soya, millet, amaranth and rapeseed oil (canola). Once diagnosed it is essential that your doctor refers you to a State Registered Dietician to discuss your dietary needs, especially as the undiagnosed ceoliac has a poor absorption of nutrients causing a deficit in important vitamins and minerals. 
 
Oats do not contain gluten but can be contaminated as they are often milled in the same factory as wheat. If you want to include oats in your diet you should consult with your State Registered Dietician first. 
 
Malt extract and malt extract flavouring are manufactured from barley an can have an effect on some coeliacs depending on their intolerance levels. Once diagnosed it is important for your doctor to refer you to a nutritionist. Your doctor will make an appointment with a nutritionist for you to discuss your dietary needs. 
 
Further guidance and information on coeliac disease can be found here: Nutritionist Resource 
 
 
 
 
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