What is Coeliac disease?

Coeliac disease is an autoimmune disease that affects the lining of the small intestine or the entire digestive tract the small, large and/or the entire digestive tract, and causes the body to produce an excessive amount of antibodies (a type of protein) that attack the lining of the small intestine.

When the body produces too many antibodies, the lining of the small intestine becomes inflamed and damaged, which can lead to the following symptoms:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhoea
  • Constipation
  • Bloating

Coeliac disease is an autoimmune disease, which means it’s caused by an abnormal immune response.

In the past, the condition was referred to as “coeliac disease of the small intestine” however, many people with this condition now prefer to use the term “coeliac disease” because it’s more accurate to describe the condition.

What is the small intestine?

The small intestine is a long, hollow organ that’s about 5 feet (1.5 Metres) long. It’s located in the lower right part of the abdomen, and it’s where food is digested and the nutrients are absorbed.

It also absorbs vitamins and minerals from the food to be digested.

What is the digestive system?

The digestive system is an organ that’s responsible for digesting and absorbing food.

There are many parts of the digestive system, including the:

  • Stomach
  • Small intestine
  • Large intestine
  • Rectum
  • Pancreas
  • Liver
  • Gall bladder
  • Pancreatic tract
  • Gall duct

These parts help break down food and then absorb the nutrients needed by the body.

How does a coeliac disease patient feel?

Patients with coeliac disease often experience abdominal pain, bloating and constipation. These symptoms are caused by the damage and inflammation of the small intestine.

In addition, the immune system of the body can also affect the:

  • Joints
  • Kidneys
  • Eyes
  • Skin
  • Hair
  • Heart
  • Blood vessels
  • Bone marrow
  • Immune system

What is a coeliac disease diet?

A coeliac disease diet is a type of diet that’s designed to help people with coeliac disease.

A coeliac disease diet includes a wide range of foods, many of which are high in fibre and low in fat and sugar.

Some examples of foods that are high in fibre and low in fat and sugar include:

  • Wholemeal breads and cereals
  • Oats
  • Brown rice
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Beans
  • Legumes
  • Lentils

A coeliac disease diet may also include foods that are high in protein, such as:

  • Dairy
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Lamb
  • Pork
  • Beef
  • Tofu

How does a coeliac disease diet help?

A coeliac disease nutrition plan includes a wide range of foods, many of which are high in fibre and low in fat and sugar.

A diet that’s high in fat and sugar can lead to weight gain and high blood sugar levels, which can worsen coeliac disease symptoms.

There’s also evidence to suggest that a coeliac disease nutrition plan can help to:

  • Help to manage coeliac disease
  • Reduce the risk of developing coeliac disease
  • Reduce the risk of complications from coeliac disease
  • Improve symptoms of coeliac disease
  • Help to prevent weight gain
  • Help to maintain weight loss
  • Help to reduce blood sugar levels

What is the difference between a coeliac disease nutrition plan and a gluten-free diet?

A coeliac diet nutrition plan and a gluten-free diet are very different types of diets, but both can help to manage symptoms of coeliac disease.

A gluten-free diet is a strict diet that doesn’t include any foods that contain gluten.

In contrast, a coeliac diet nutrition plan includes a wide range of foods, many of which are high in fibre and lower in fat and sugar.

Who should follow a coeliac diet?

A coeliac diet should be followed by people who have coeliac disease.

This means that any person with coeliac disease should follow a coeliac diet.

People who have coeliac disease should also follow a gluten-free diet.

These diets are designed to help manage symptoms of coeliac disease.

Coeliac disease is a lifelong condition that’s caused by an abnormal immune system response.

It’s important to follow a diet that’s tailored to your individual needs, as treatment is available.

What is the difference between a coeliac diet and a low-FODMAP diet?

A coeliac diet and a low-FODMAP diet are both types of diet designed to help manage symptoms of coeliac disease.

The FODMAPs are a group of carbohydrates that are poorly absorbed and fermented by the gut.

These foods include:

  • Fruits and vegetables

Over to you

If you’re intolerant to gluten, it’s important to speak to a nutritionist or dietitian before starting a coeliac diet.

You should also speak to a nutritionist or dietitian if you’re trying to lose weight, change your diet or follow a vegetarian or vegan diet.

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