What is Coeliac or Celiac Disease?

Coeliac, Celiac, See-lee-ak. This word is so hard for so many people to say and spell, let alone understand what it means.

But that's why I want to educate more and more people about what Coeliac (Celiac) Disease really is.

Coeliac Disease means your body cannot tolerate anything made from gluten.

Gluten is a general name for the protein found in wheat, barley, rye and triticale (a cross between wheat and rye). Oats are also not recommended to be eaten in New Zealand and Australia, even though some other countries approve oats for coeliacs. This is a whole other topic to be discussed which I will do in another blog.

Oats are naturally gluten free but they have protein called avenin, similar to gluten, that people with coeliac disease can have an immune reaction to. If you do eat oats you must ensure they are labeled as gluten free and are not cross-contaminated with the gluten grain.

Gluten can help food bind together which is why it's used in many instances especially if a product is being produced in bulk or needing a thickening agent to keep it together. It also can be found in some foods that you wouldn't even expect. So learning to read food labels is your first step in the right direction.

But today there are many alternative and healthier options.

By definition Coeliac Disease is:

Noun: A disease in which the small intestine is hypersensitive to gluten, leading to difficulty in digesting food. 

Here are the top 10 things that you need to know about Coeliac Disease:

  1. It’s an autoimmune disease.
    This is when your body gets confused and starts to attached the healthy cells in your body. It can’t be ‘cured’, you will always have it.

  2. You cannot ‘grow out’ of this disease. It’s all about learning to live with it, manage it daily.

  3. It’s completely different to gluten intolerance and gluten sensitivity.

  4. It can be heredity and run in your family.
    There are two genes for coeliac disease. These genes are called human leukocyte antigen (HLA) DQ2 and DQ8. Many people who have coeliac disease will have at least one of these genes.  Not everyone who has this gene will automatically get Coeliac Disease.

  5. You will be able to eat out and dine with your friends and family.

  6. Self diagnoses is not a good route to go (in my opinion).
    It’s now easier to get a diagnosis and it’s better if you do it when you have your symptoms rather than taking gluten out of your diet before you are diagnosed.

  7. Cross-contamination is something you'll need to learn to manage. Educating those around you will ensure you avoid getting cross contamination which could harm you.

  8. It's important to follow this diet correctly if you don’t follow this diet correctly, it can lead to other health issues.

  9. You can get coeliac disease at any age. But it's better for you if you can be diagnosed earlier on in life if you have symptoms for coeliac disease.

  10. There are over 200 signs and symptoms of this disease. And these symptoms might now always show up in the digestive system. Example for some people it can be abdominal pain, bloating and others it could be anemia and fatigue.

"More education is needed to differentiate between gluten intolerance or sensitivity and coeliac disease, as there is a significant distinction between the two."

Queenstown, New Zealand