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What is Celiac / Coeliac Disease?

What is Celiac Disease?

Celiac Disease is an intolerance of gluten. People with this are therefore unable to eat foods that contain gluten. Gluten is a protein present in a certain number of cereals: wheat, rye, oats and barley. Foods containing these cereals or their derivatives, such as flour, starch, bread, pasta, biscuits and cakes, all contain gluten. Gluten may also be present in less obvious foods, such as sweets, puddings, preserved meats, stock cubes, etc.

What happens if a person with Celiac Disease eats food containing gluten?

They will inevitably cause themselves serious harm, primarily to the intestine and secondarily to other organs. The walls of the intestine are lined with minute finger like projections called villi. Intestinal villi absorb nutrients from ingested food. When a Celiac ingests gluten, his/her villi flatten out and no longer perform their function. Nutrients in food are thus no longer assimilated and are passed out of the body in the faeces. Celiac’s who ingest gluten effectively put their intestine out of service; their bodies no longer receive the necessary nutrition and consequently they lose weight, their growth is stunted and they become ill. Gluten intolerance symptoms vary, the most noticeable being diarrhoea, abdominal swelling, loss of appetite and vomiting. However, sufferers may also develop other less immediately apparent symptoms, such as iron and calcium deficiency.

How can Celiac Disease be treated?

The only treatment required is a gluten free diet. It might seem difficult at first to enjoy a complete and balanced diet without gluten, but in fact, providing you follow certain specific rules, it is really relatively simple.

Read more about Celiac Disease and a gluten free diet…

What must those affected do?

People with Celiac Disease can still follow a healthy, balanced diet with variety and taste. The important thing is that none of the food they eat must contain gluten (not even tiny amounts), or be cross-contaminated by gluten containing food. Those affected must stick rigidly to a gluten free diet for life.

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