So what is coeliac/celiac disease?
Coeliac disease is a permanent, autoimmune disorder caused by an intolerance to the type of gluten protein found in wheat, barley and rye. Oats are also recommended to be avoided as their gluten protein is similar and may not be tolerated by some Coeliacs. This intolerance to gluten causes the body’s immune system to produce antibodies, which cause inflammation and damage the lining of the small bowel impairing the body’s ability to absorb vitamins, minerals and other nutrients from food.
Genetic (hereditary) and environmental factors can both play a role in a person developing coeliac disease. Common symptoms include bloating, gas, abdominal pain, lack of energy/tiredness, diarrhea, anemia, weight loss, mood swings/depression, itchy skin, constipation, joint pain, mouth ulcers, headaches, eczema, stunted growth, vitamin deficiencies, nausea and often, other food intolerances.
The only treatment for coeliac disease is a lifelong gluten free diet. By specifically removing the cause of the disease, this treatment allows the damage done to the lining of the small bowel to, given time, recover. In most people, a gluten free diet will result in improvement of symptoms within weeks. Though some people report symptom improvement within 48 hours.
Recent medical studies have also recognized the existence of non-coeliac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) which has almost identical symptoms as coeliac disease but as yet there are no medically accepted tests which can diagnose NCGS. But it might explain why for some people when traditional coeliac tests come back negative or inconclusive, they still feel better after adopting a gluten free diet.
This is intended as basic information only not as a tool for diagnosis so if this description resonates with you the first step should always be to discuss your symptoms with your doctor or health care professional.