Gluten Intolerance (Coeliac Disease)
Introduction to Gluten Intolerance (Coeliac Disease)
Gluten intolerance, also known as coeliac disease, is a gastrointestinal autoimmune condition where the body’s immune system attacks healthy tissue in response to consuming foods containing gluten.
What is Gluten Intolerance (Coeliac Disease)?
Gluten intolerance, also known as coeliac disease, is a gastrointestinal autoimmune condition where the body’s immune system attacks healthy tissue in response to consuming foods containing gluten. It is found more often in women than in men and can develop at any age.
What causes Coeliac Disease?
The symptoms associated with gluten intolerance are caused by an autoimmune reaction to a protein called gliadin. It is found in wheat, barley, rye, and any foods containing these grains. This protein is modified by in the intestine, which then triggers an inflammatory reaction. This flattens and damages the lining of the intestine, the villi, leading to reduced absorption of nutrients and the symptoms associated with coeliac disease.
The exact cause of this autoimmune reaction isn’t known though both genetic and environmental factors are thought to play a role. It is perhaps for genetic reasons that it is more common in women than in men.
What are the symptoms of Coeliac Disease?
Symptoms include diarrhoea and steatorrhoea (where the stool is pale and greasy due to undigested fat and floats in water), bloating, abdominal pain, weight loss, slow growth in children, and fatigue due to poor absorption and not receiving enough nutrition.
How is Coeliac Disease treated?
While there is no cure for coeliac disease there are lifestyle and dietary changes you can make to alleviate symptoms. Adopting a gluten-free diet is crucial and increasingly easy to achieve now that gluten-free foods are widely available. With regards to dietary alterations people often enlist the help of a dietician or a nutritionist in order to help identify foods that may contain gluten.