Coeliac disease is an hereditary condition involving an inflammatory response to dietary gluten. Ingestion of grains containing gluten (i.e. wheat, rye, barley, oats) results in an immune response in the intestinal wall, causing inflammation and malabsorption of nutrients.
Symptoms are not always present, but can include abdominal pain, bloating and diarrhoea. Nutritional side effects include iron deficiency and osteoporosis.
A gluten free diet is the only treatment for coeliac disease. It has been demonstrated that even small amounts of gluten are sufficient to cause ongoing intestinal damage in coeliac patients and thus, understanding the intricacies of the gluten free diet is important to avoid gluten ingestion. In a small population, gluten intolerance can exist in the absence of coeliac disease. However, it is vital that coeliac disease is excluded prior to commencement of a gluten free diet. Once you have removed gluten from your diet, diagnosing coeliac disease becomes extremely difficult. Please seek medical advice for coeliac screening before significantly reducing your intake of gluten. Your dietitian will be able to assist you in identifying whether gluten is indeed a trigger for your symptoms.