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What is coeliac disease?

Wheat field and blue sky

Did you know around 1% of the UK population has coeliac disease? And as only 24% are diagnosed, it means 500,000 people in the UK are living with the disease and don’t know! Coeliac disease is an autoimmune condition where the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues when gluten is consumed.

What is coeliac disease?

Coeliac disease is an autoimmune condition where the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues when gluten is consumed. Gluten is the protein that is found in foods such as wheat, rye, barley, corn and spelt. The gluten damages the tiny finger-like projections on the mucous membrane in the small intestine, called Villi which are essential for our nutrient absorption. The initial reactions caused when gluten is eaten includes diarrhoea, abdominal pain and bloating.

Coeliac disease may also cause symptoms that we don’t necessarily associate with our digestive system such as an itchy blistering rash called dermatitis herpetiformis, fatigue, anaemia, joint ache and mouth ulcers.

The exact cause of coeliac disease is unknown, but it is thought that genetics and environmental factors can play a part in developing the disease. It is a very serious condition and if left untreated, it can lead to malabsorption of essential vitamins and minerals which can have an impact on many functions of the body, including loss of bone density, weight loss and could possibly lead on to other diseases such as Lymphoma.

What should I do if I have coeliac symptoms?

It's essential that if you do have any of the symptoms associated with Coeliac disease to make a visit to your GP who in the first instance should conduct a blood test to check for specific antibodies in the blood.

Guidelines recommend that you eat some gluten in more than one meal every day for at least six weeks before having a Coeliac screen blood test so this will need to be factored into your investigation.

Following this, if you have a positive result then you should be referred to a gastroenterologist who will conduct a gut biopsy to confirm a diagnosis of Coeliac disease.

I am a diagnosed coeliac, how can I manage this?

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Having a diagnosis of coeliac disease should be taken seriously and amendments to your diet and lifestyle should be taken immediately to stop any further damage and heal any that has already been done.

There is no known cure currently for coeliac disease, and research is ongoing, so it is essential that gluten be fully excluded from the diet to help the villi heal and prevent further damage. It is advisable to also let your family and friends know about your diagnosis and make amendments at home if you share a kitchen, you may need different chopping boards, toaster and other kitchen equipment to stop cross contamination.

You will also need to think about the types of foods that you are eating and places where you eat, as gluten is included in a lot of foods now – even products such as soy sauce, soups, bouillon and even ketchup contain gluten, so it’s always advisable to check labels when you purchase foods and check with a restaurant that they can cater for coeliac disease before booking.

A trip to the supermarket can seem daunting if you have coeliac disease with many people just heading straight for the free from aisle. Although this is convenient, some of the products may have been heavily processed, contain larger amounts of sugars to make them taste better and will often contain ingredients that you may not even recognise. 

Naturally gluten-free with Purition

We would always recommend searching out more naturally gluten free products which contain wholefood and single ingredient alternatives such as brown rice, pea or red lentil pasta in place of 'gluten-free pasta'.

These may not be found in the free from aisle of your local supermarket, but in the normal pasta aisle, so it’s worth spending some time and having a good look around.

Purition is a small meal or breakfast alternative for those who have a diagnosis of coeliac disease or gluten intolerance. Purition is made in a gluten free environment and is a certified gluten free product made up of real whole foods which are easily recognisable.

Find out more about using Purition to support your gluten-free diet.

“I am a Purition vegan addict! I suffer from IBS and on the low fodmap eating I tried the vegan product and I have had no problems what’s so ever. I don’t just have shakes I also make my own protein balls for when I’m on the go so I don’t make an unhealthy choice. I feel the cost of Purition is fantastic and the quality is all natural which is what I wanted. I love working out and am now aware about what foods I put into my body due to the IBS. The taste is delicious also as you get the nutty ness come through which I love. I have a shake plus protein balls every day. Would I use another shake? NO WAY customer for life. ””

Emma, Verified Purition Customer

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