It’s Coeliac Awareness week so I wanted to share my experience and how it has changed over the years. When I was going through my naturopathy training, gluten was not much of a thing. Most of us health freaks ate it without a second thought, because we knew there were only a handful of people who needed to worry about it – the people with Coeliac disease (which was rare) & unless you had that, gluten was totally fine. Happy days, pass the organic wholegrain sourdough please!
For years I was sceptical about the growing ‘trend’ of gluten-free foods, they started popping up everywhere on menus & in healthfood stores! I thought it was unnecessary & that all these super-sensitive people just needed to look after their gut a bit better so they could tolerate it like the rest of us (except of course for that handful of Coeliacs who genuinely reacted severely). Plus all the GF foods were just so expensive, but full of unhealthy fake / non-food ingredients & refined carbs, sugars etc. I totally shunned gluten free foods, even laughed at non-coeliac people who chose to eat them!
Fast forward to now, after spending a massive chunk of my life chatting to people face to face about their health – specifically their gut issues & poo problems, & researching plenty – I cannot stress enough to people with any gut symptoms (& even other seemingly unrelated symptoms) ‘GET TESTED FOR COELIAC DISEASE’. I am also no longer sceptical about non-coeliac gluten avoidance – I actually do it myself, as do many naturopaths (it’s often the first dietary modification we make, as part of a treatment plan – cut out gluten (& often dairy) for a few months & see if you notice a change).
The info below is taken directly from the Coeliac Australia website:
“The symptoms of coeliac disease vary considerably. Some people experience severe symptoms while others are asymptomatic (they have no obvious symptoms at all).
Symptoms can include one or more of the following:
- gastrointestinal symptoms e.g. diarrhoea, constipation, nausea, vomiting, flatulence, cramping, bloating, abdominal pain, steatorrhea
- fatigue, weakness and lethargy
- iron deficiency anaemia and/or other vitamin and mineral deficiencies
- failure to thrive or delayed puberty in children
- weight loss (although some people may gain weight)
- bone and joint pains
- recurrent mouth ulcers and/or swelling of mouth or tongue
- altered mental alertness and irritability
- skin rashes such as dermatitis herpetiformis
- easy bruising of the skin
People who experience any of the following should also be screened for coeliac disease
- early onset osteoporosis
- unexplained infertility
- family history of coeliac disease
- liver disease
- autoimmune disease e.g. type 1 diabetes, autoimmune thyroid condition
Importantly, 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.
Although symptoms can vary considerably in coeliac disease, everybody with the condition is at risk of complications if they do not adhere strictly to treatment with a gluten-free diet. There is no correlation between symptoms and bowel damage so even if you are asymptomatic (you have no obvious symptoms), damage to the small bowel can still occur if gluten is ingested. This means everybody with coeliac disease, irrespective of the severity of their symptoms, needs to adhere strictly to a gluten free diet.”
You need to be tested for Coeliac disease before beginning a gluten-free diet, otherwise, the test will not be worth doing, it will be negative as you’re not reacting to something you’re not eating. So if you have health issues & haven’t ruled it out – get tested before you go off gluten.
You can be an asymptomatic coeliac. Yep – you can have massive gut issues brewing inside with zero symptoms. After seeing the massive rise in Coeliac awareness & diagnosis over the past 10 yrs, I think everyone should be tested for Coeliac disease before puberty (regardless of health status / symptoms). There are many many undiagnosed Coeliacs in Aus, & then there are many more who are not Coeliac, but who notice huge changes to the way they feel & function when they eat gluten. These people are not just ‘super-sensitive’ like I used to think – they have non-coeliac gluten sensitivity (it can sometimes be other things like FODMAP sensitivity or wheat allergy, but gluten does not just affect Coeliacs).
There’s heaps of info now regarding Coeliac disease, gluten, FODMAPs etc online now, for further research, & awareness is growing rapidly among Drs. So as it’s coeliac awareness week, get yourself & family tested – & whether the results show up Coeliac or not, here are some awesome easy gluten free recipes with no fake food ingredients, that are full of nutrients too!
Shoot me an email anytime if you have specific questions :-)