This week is coeliac awareness week, and with that in mind, I thought I'd dedicate this post to sharing things you might not know about coeliac disease.
1. It's not a food allergy
Coeliac (celiac) disease is an auto-immune disorder. For someone with coeliac disease, this means that when they eat gluten their immune system attacks itself leading to damage to the small intestine.
2. It's permanent
Don't be lured in by promises of 'this pill will allow you to eat gluten', or 'I healed my coeliac disease'. This is a permanent disorder, which you don't grow out of and unfortunately can't cure. However, there has been talk of a vaccine recently ...
3. Some people have no visible symptoms
Which makes it really hard to diagnose! This doesn't mean that they aren't affected by the disease, they still suffer from damage to the small intestine, and are still at increased risk of bowel cancer and early death if they continue to eat gluten.
4. The symptoms vary hugely
Tummy aches, diarrhea, constipation, fatigue, dermatitis ... the list goes on. Check out this cool infograph from Gluten Dude that shows the weird and wondrous list of symptoms.
5. It can kill you, but it probably won't
Coeliac disease when untreated can lead to a number of serious and unfortunately deadly illnesses, including cancer. Fortunately, early diagnosis and sticking to a gluten-free diet greatly decreases your risk of early mortality.
6. Gluten free means less than three parts per million containing gluten
That's minuscule right? Even crumbs can hurt some of us gluteys. 3ppm is New Zealand's legislated food standard for a product being labelled gluten-free. 20ppm is the overseas standard, but even that's a tiny, tiny, tiny amount of gluten - and definitely means coeliacs need to be ultra vigilant about cross-contamination at home and when dining out.
7. It runs in families
Got a family member with coeliac disease? Then you're at higher risk of developing it too, and should definitely get tested even if you don't have symptoms.
8. Coeliacs come in all shapes and sizes
There's a common mis-perception that most coeliacs are skinny because they're malnourished. Nope! We come in all shapes and sizes.
9. Gluten free is not healthy!
Ignore all that fad diet nonsense, eating gluten-free does not mean you're eating healthy food. In fact, a lot of processed gluten-free food contains more sugar and other junk than gluteny food. Want to eat healthy? Consider eating a whole food diet with less sugar and processed junk foods. And always, if you're coeliac or gluten intolerant stick to eating only foods that are gluten-free.
10. Yes you can do it
"Oh I could never stop eating gluten" Yup, you totally could. If you've got coeliac disease, you must stick to the diet 100% of the time. You'll adapt, honestly. And you'll be way healthier for it.
Take care out there gluteys!
P.S. the pic of bread at the top of this post is probably not gluten-free, its' a stock photo. Looks super yum eh? If you can make gluten-free bread that looks and tastes this yummy let me know the recipe!