Coeliac disease: 10 key facts

It’s Coeliac Awareness Week 2017… here are some things to know about this diet-related disease

1. Coeliac disease is an autoimmune disorder occurring in genetically susceptible individuals, resulting in an abnormal immune response to dietary gluten.

2. Gluten is a protein found in wheat (including spelt), rye, barley, and oats.

3. 1 in 70 Australians have coeliac disease.

4. 4 out of 5 people with the disease remain undiagnosed.

5. When a family member has coeliac disease, the odds of having it yourself become 1 in 10.

6. Possible symptoms include: low iron levels; tiredness; unexplained infertility; hair loss; low levels of vitamins and minerals; mouth ulcers; depression.

7. It is possible to have coeliac disease and be asymptomatic, although those who are asymptomatic can still experience damage to the small bowel if gluten is ingested.

8. Untreated coeliac disease is associated with a range of complications, including nutrient deficiencies; premature osteoporosis; abnormal liver function; higher rates of other autoimmune diseases, such as thyroid disease; infertility and poorer pregnancy outcomes; sepsis; and some forms of malignancy, especially lymphoproliferative disorders such as lymphoma.

9. Treatment with a strict gluten free diet leads to small bowel healing, resolution of symptoms and a reduction in the long-term risk of these complications.

10. ‘Non-coeliac gluten sensitivity’ describes a set of symptoms people attribute to dietary gluten, but the cause and treatment is not well understood. Emerging research indicates it may not be gluten that is the problem and that the malabsorption of fermentable sugars (FODMAPs) may be the culprit in those with Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

Source: Coeliac Australia

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