CeliacBG.jpgNext week is Coeliac Awareness Week.

It's likely that you have heard of coeliac disease, know someone who is coeliac, or maybe you are yourself. The aim of the campaign is to create awareness of the many ‘faces’ of coeliac disease and its wide range of symptoms and associated medical conditions.

Coeliac Australia is the organisation behind the campaign, and they work all year round to support the diverse range of Australians with coeliac disease.

Coeliac disease (pronounced seel-ee-ak) is an immune disease caused by gluten. Gluten is a protein present in wheat, rye, barley and oats.

When people with coeliac disease eat gluten, they have an inappropriate immune reaction. This reaction causes inflammation and damage to the small bowel (intestine). If left undiagnosed and untreated, this can cause a range of symptoms and health problems.

The lining of the small bowel is covered in small projections called villi, which aid in the digestion of food, and the absorption of nutrients. In people with untreated coeliac disease, these villi are what become inflamed and flattened. This reduces the surface area of the bowel available for nutrient absorption, which can lead to nutrient deficiencies. This inflammation can also result in problems that can affect the bones, joints and other organs, such as the liver and brain.

Common symptoms of coeliac disease are: stomach pain, constipation and/or diarrhoea,  vomiting, tiredness, weight loss, mouth ulcers, fertility problems, or growth problems. While milder symptoms are often described as just feeling unwell after eating food containing gluten. Other people with the disease can present no symptoms at all!

You cannot catch coeliac disease, but it can become apparent at any stage in life. There is a genetic factor, so you are more likely to be at risk if others in your family have coeliac disease.
Testing for coeliac disease involves a blood test, which screens for antibodies in the blood that could indicate the disease. If the result indicates a likely case of coeliac disease, this is followed with a small bowl biopsy. While testing can take time, and may be frustrating, it is essential to get an accurate diagnosis.

Treatment involves a lifelong and strict avoidance of consuming gluten, which leads to healing of the bowel and overall better health. There is no medication available to aid treatment. Most people feel better soon after they stop eating foods containing gluten.

If you think you might be coeliac, it is best to consult with your doctor. 1 in 70 people in Australia have coeliac disease, and 1 in 5 are undiagnosed. However there are also other gluten sensitivities that are not related to coeliac disease, so proper diagnosis is essential before eliminating gluten from your diet.
At Lettuce we have a wide range of gluten free products, like breads, flours, cake mixes, and more!

Coeliac Australia is also running some great competitions during Coeliac Awareness Week, so check out their facebook page or website if you are interested!