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Coeliac Disease Awareness Week (9 – 15 May 2017)

Coeliac awareness

As part of Coeliac Awareness Week 2017, HRCH dietitian Veronica Mitchell writes about the common digestive condition resulting from an adverse reaction to gluten - which affects 1 in every 100 people in the UK.


Gluten has become a dirty word amongst many celebrities, self – styled nutrition gurus and the ever growing clean eating dieters.  However, in those with a real intolerance to gluten, eating gluten has a serious health impact. 

This week is the National Coeliac Disease awareness week.  Coeliac disease is an autoimmune disease causing the immune system to react to gluten.  It is known that 1 in a 100 people has coeliac disease. 

How do you know if you have coeliac disease? 

Symptoms may vary from mild to severe and can include bloating, diarrhoea, nausea, wind, constipation, tiredness, mouth ulcers, hair loss, anaemia, sudden or unexpected weight loss (but not always).  However, some people do not experience any symptoms and coeliac may remain undetected.  The aforementioned symptoms could also present in other conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome. 

As coeliac disease is an autoimmune condition it is therefore linked to other autoimmune conditions such as type 1 diabetes or thyroid disease.  Also, if you have a first degree relative with coeliac disease, you have a 10% risk of being coeliac. 

Testing for coeliac disease includes a blood test and a gut biopsy.  It is important not to remove gluten from your diet while the tests are being carried out to ensure an accurate result.  If you have been diagnosed with coeliac disease, you will need to follow a gluten – free diet for life. 

Gluten is a protein found in barley, rye and wheat.  Eating gluten if you have coeliac disease will damage the lining of the small intestines.  This will result in malabsorption of calories, vitamins and minerals.  There are lots of unprocessed naturally gluten free foods such as

  • All types of rice, potatoes, corn (maize)

  • Plain meat, poultry, fish, eggs, beans and pulses

  • Fruits and vegetables

  • Cheese, milk and most yoghurts

If you are concerned about coeliac disease, you could find more information at www.coeliac.org.ukIf you suspect that you may have coeliac disease talk to your GP about testing for coeliac disease and asked to be referred to a dietitian.

Find out more

You can read more dietary blogs and healthy recipe suggestions from our team of specialist dietitians at: http://hrch.nhs.uk/patients/healthy-living/healthy-recipes/