Firstly, it is a real thing so let`s put that to bed. Sure, some people go off foods containing gluten for losing weight and are perhaps following a trend. Also, some people are sensitive to gluten but would not be diagnosed as coeliacs and would have the same range of complaints.
However, if you are diagnosed as Coeliac then it is a real issue and it is why The Foods of Athenry bakes gluten free foods such as bars, snacks, cookies, cereals & granolas.*
So let`s dive right in:
- What is Coeliac disease?
- How many people does it affect?
- What are the symptoms?
- How is Coeliac disease diagnosed?
- How is Coeliac disease treated?
- Can I be cured of Coeliac disease?
- How long does it take to switch to a gluten free diet?
- What can I eat or naturally gluten free foods?
- It`s a change so go with it
- Coeliac associations aroud the world
What is Coeliac disease?
Coeliac disease is the most severe form of gluten intolerance. It is a chronic disease of the small intestine, is one of the autoimmune diseases and it may lead to damage in the digestive tract if left untreated.
It is based on an incompatibility with gluten, which occurs in cereals wheat, rye, spelt and barley all of which are used in some of our favourite foods like bread, pasta, cakes etc.
In the small intestine of Coeliacs, gluten causes inflammation of the small intestine villi responsible for nutrient uptake. Due to the inflammation, the villi in the intestine that would normally absorb nutrients are affected. Thus, the nutrient absorption is reduced by the small intestine which negatively affects the health of a coeliac.
How many people are affected?
There are two different groups affected. Those people who have the severe form of Coeliac disease which are about 1 in 100 people or 1% of the population and this figure is seen right across the globe. The second group of people affected are those who are not diagnosed as coeliac but they have a milder form of gluten intolerance or sensitivity and the number of people is anywhere between 0.5 to 13% of the population. That is a lot of people worldwide. This is why we as a bakery have seen such an enormous interest in high quality baked goods with clean label ingredients.
What are the symptoms?
Both forms of gluten intolerance can cause widespread symptoms, many of which have nothing to do with digestion. Often there are several symptoms that can occur individually. One of the frustrations that is common amongst people is the large number of different symptoms often makes a quick diagnosis difficult.
Depending on your age, the following symptoms may occur:
Symptoms in adults
- Fatigue, tiredness
- Iron deficiency and other vitamin deficiencies? (E.g. Vitamin B12, Vitamin D)
- Weight loss
- Diarrhoea or constipation
- Stomach upsets
- Abdominal or bone pain
- Skin problems such as dermatitis herpetiformis
- Other symptoms may include joint and muscle pain, depression and anxiety, mind fog and confusion
How is Coeliac disease diagnosed?
If coeliac disease is suspected then it can only be diagnosed by taking a blood test and the blood should be tested for the following specific antibodies:
- Total IgA
- Anti-tissue transglutaminase IgA and IgG
- Anti-endomysium IgA and IgG
- Anti-gliadin IgA and anti-gliadin IgG
This blood test can be arranged with the family doctor. He sends the sample to a laboratory for evaluation. In case of positive antibody findings, a small bowel biopsy should be performed and your family doctor can arrange this for you.
How is Coeliac disease treated?
There are no medicines for treating coeliac disease or gluten intolerance. The only thing for it a totally gluten-free diet. Only then can the small intestinal mucosa regenerate and ensure a normal nutrient uptake. The good news is that in most cases, a few weeks after the change in diet there is an improvement and the disease symptoms disappear. This is where you have to be careful because even taking the smallest amounts of gluten can again lead to inflammation and discomfort. It can then take several days to return to normal. Fortunately the Foods of Athenry have you covered for your Rocky Road addiction:).
Can I be cured of Coeliac disease?
It is a very short answer. No. Coeliac disease is not curable! The only currently scientifically recognized therapy is a lifelong gluten free diet. The good thing is that there are more and more products coming online and a much greater awareness amongst the food industry and you can find many restaurants providing gluten free food. The upside and there is always an upside if you take a pause is that you get to explore new foods, new ways of cooking and baking and a healthier life. Your health is your wealth after all.
How long does it take to switch to a gluten free diet?
It is easy to switch to a gluten free diet and the thing is that the majority of patients with coeliac disease usually respond to a gluten-free diet within a short time. It all depends on the person and their diagnosis but most people show significant improvement within weeks to months after switching to a gluten-free diet. I am going to shamelessly plug our shop. We have a great variety of products made with the finest ingredients that are available so pop into the shop on this link and have a lookop into the shop on this link and have a look. We deliver and a lot of our products are available in supermarkets and health shops around the country.
What can i eat or naturally gluten-free foods?
There are a number of gluten free foods that exist so all you need is some creativity:
- Fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables are naturally gluten-free. Although do be careful if you pick canned fruit or veg as some of the ingredients may contain gluten.
- Fresh red meat, chicken and fish
- Wholefoods: Quinoa, Brown rice, Wild rice, Buckwheat, Sorghum, Tapioca, Millet, Amaranth, Arrowroot
- Milk, Butter and ghee (clarified butter), Cream cheese, Cottage cheese, Sour cream, Yogurt
- Butter and ghee, Olives and olive oil, Coconut oil, Vegetable and seed oils, including sesame oil, canola oil and sunflower oil
- Water,100% fruit, juice, Coffee, Tea
Some alcoholic beverages, including wine, hard ciders and beers made from gluten-free grains, such as buckwheat or sorghum
- Processed foods: you do need to become a label reader and familiarise yourself with the terms. If it does not state GLUTEN FREE then it is not for you no matter how much you want it. Have a look at any of our products in the online shop to see what it means to be gluten free.
it`s a change - go with it
If you have been diagnosed, the main thing is not to worry. You just need to go gluten free. There are many people who are leading normal lies including some very famous faces such as John Cleese and Novak Djokovic who do not eat gluten and are thriving. There is support throughout the world if you are going travelling.
We have several recipes that would be of interest to you so head over to that page on our site and see what takes your fancy. Give them a try and enjoy the fun of it. RECIPES.
Coeliac Associations and Charities around the world
There are quite a number of societies, charities and associations around the world that are of great help if you have to travel. Check them out and do a search if the one you are looking for is not here.
*We are not health practitioners so we would always advise people to seek medical advice.