Coeliac disease is a lifelong autoimmune disease. It is caused by the immune system overreacting to gluten, which is seen as a threat. The condition affects around one per cent of UK adults; however, just one-quarter of these know that they have the illness. Left untreated, sufferers experience a range of symptoms, such as diarrhoea and nausea, and can also experience dermatitis herpetiformis as a form of the disease. There is no cure for coeliac disease; however, it can be managed through rigid adherence to a gluten-free diet.
Do I have coeliac disease?
The symptoms of coeliac disease take many forms. The primary symptoms – the ones most suffers first notice – are gastrointestinal and include nausea, vomiting, severe diarrhoea, excessive wind, and constipation.
There are a wide range of other symptoms, which could be far more serious, that are often over looked. These involve sudden or unexplained weight loss, depression, and neurological issues such as ataxia, which includes a loss of coordination and poor balance, and peripheral neuropathy, which leads to numbness or tingling of the hands and feet.
What causes the disease?
Coeliac disease is a genetic condition that is passed on to you by your parents. If an immediate relative has the condition, your chances of having the condition go from one per cent to 10 per cent.
Living with coeliac disease
Although there is no cure for the condition, the condition can be well managed with the right diet. All gluten needs to be avoided, which means identifying which products contain gluten, such as bread, pasta and even beer. It also means identifying your safe gluten free snacks with the help of resources such as http://gofitnesslifestyle.com/what-are-the-best-gluten-free-snacks-for-health/.
Which foods are gluten free?
All varieties of rice, peas, beans and lentils in their natural state are gluten free. All fruits and vegetables, including potatoes, are also naturally gluten-free. Dairy products such as eggs, cheese, milk and yogurt, are also gluten-free, as are fish and meat; however, consumers need to beware.
Prepared foods, even if they fall into these categories, could contain gluten. Likewise, prepared or pre-cooked products could be cross contaminated by other gluten-containing items if made in the same factory.
Once you learn which foods are safe and which should be avoided, coeliac disease is highly manageable.