Coeliac Disease

What is Coeliac Disease?

Coeliac disease is an immune system driven condition which is triggered by the ingestion of gluten. The immune system reacts to the gluten and the cells that line the small intestine are damaged. To calm this reaction to gluten, gluten containing foods need to be removed from the diet. In addition to wheat other foods with similar proteins to gluten may have to be avoided. These are proteins such as secalin found in rye and avenin found in oats.

While many people carry the genes which appear to increase the risk of developing coeliac genes alone are not diagnostic. 92-95% of coeliacs have the HLA-DQ2 gene. However, only 2% of the general population with this gene will actually then go on to develop coeliac disease. As is often said, the genes may load the gun but it’s the environment that pull the trigger.

It’s incidence has risen over 400% since the 1940s and may be attributed to a combination of;

  • Changes in infant feeding practices
  • Shortened duration of breastfeeding
  • Introduction of gluten before 4 months of age.  This has 500% increased risk of developing the conditions.
  • Increased frequency of C-section births
  • Alterations in GIT microflora

It was commonly thought that the condition raised its head in early years and was primarily found in infants. However, we now see that coaliac disease can develop at any age.

Coeliac Disease Symptoms

Typical symptoms can be chronic diarrhoea, weight loss and abdominal pain. Other more atypical symptoms may also present. These include anaemia, constipation, abnormal liver function tests, low bone mass, oesophageal reflux and reflux. Often these can result from the poor absorption of nutrients due damage in the small intestine.

Due to it’s increasing prevalence this something I routinely test for. As to lessen the consequences of long-term gluten exposure if coeliac.

Treating Coeliac Disease?

Already removed gluten but don’t feel much better?

Maybe you’ve already been diagnosed with coeliac and have been on a gluten free diet for a few months and only feel 30% better. This can be due to a few things.

Coeliac disease isn’t the only issue. Further investigation into dysbiosis (an imbalance gut bacteria) can be helpful here.

Mucosal damage. Often there’s been a number of years from onset of symptoms to diagnosis of coeliac. This means the lining of the small intestine (the mucosa) will have been damaged. While this repairs over time in some cases this can take up to two years. However, there are ways to speed up and support this recovery and healing process.

Feel like you again.
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