Coeliac Disease



Coeliac disease is a medical condition that is only just beginning to gain more media attention and interest.

What Is Coeliac Disease

If someone has coeliac disease but is undiagnosed and consumes food which contains the protein gluten, which is in foods such as bread or pasta, the immune system thinks it is the enemy and starts to attack it and the small intestine.   The problem protein is Gliadin which is found in wheat, barley and rye.   The villi which live in the small intestine has the job of capturing the nutrients needed for us to stay healthy, it resembles the tips of a baby’s fingers or minute tubes and stands upright.  However, when it is attacked it becomes flattened and vital nutrients needed to support a healthy body escape from the system.

Coeliac disease is an autoimmune disease an intolerance to gluten.  It is different to a  food allergy.  Some people with coeliac may also develop a dairy intolerance.

The Symptoms

There are many symptoms, these vary from person to person.  Some people may suffer fatigue where others will not.  The symptoms in children will not become apparent until they start to eat solid food.  Some of the symptoms include:

  • Weight Loss
  • Fatigue
  • Diarrhoea
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Noisy Stomach
  • Vomiting (more common in children).
  • Flatulence
  • Some sufferers may also develop the skin rash, dermatitis herpetiformis.
  • Swelling of the hands, arms, legs and feet
  • Osteoporosis (when the bones become weak and brittle).
  • Bloating
Diagnosis and Gluten Free Foods on Prescription

Diagnosis is normally through a blood test and an endoscopy when a camera is inserted through the mouth and into the small intestine.  The amount of damage to the villi is seen through this procedure.

Once diagnosed, an appointment is made to see a dietician to discuss the diet. Some types of gluten-free foods are available with a medical prescription.  For more details visit  who provide all the information available on the disease.  Buying gluten-free is more expensive than ordinary food and the prescription can help to save money.

After Diagnosis

There is no cure for coeliac disease at the moment and following a gluten-free diet is essential to keeping healthy.  Failing to follow the diet could result in other medical problems developing.  The risk of bowel cancer and lymphoma (the lymphatic system), is a slightly higher risk, for people with coeliac disease, but it is rare and once the gluten-free diet kicks in this decreases.

The diet is not complicated. Fresh vegetables, fruit, plain meat and fish, are naturally gluten-free and so is cornflour.  Gluten-free bread, cakes and pasta are available at most supermarkets.  Alcohol, such as wine, cider and spirits are gluten-free.  There are gluten-free beers and lager available in supermarkets and online suppliers.

Eating out is a matter of research.  Consider asking the establishment if there are any gluten-free meals available, or find out where in your area, they cater for people with coeliac disease.   Restaurants, pubs, and eating out places in general, are becoming more aware that there is a need for gluten-free meals.

Buying Gluten Free

Most supermarkets have a free from section, for shelf foods like pasta, biscuits, and bread, and a freezer section for meats and fish coated in gluten-free bread crumbs.   You can find gluten-free sausages on the chilled shelf along with some gluten-free ready meals.    These days there is a wider variety available and this continues to grow.  Some foods are naturally gluten-free such as rice pudding, tinned fruit, tinned tomatoes and baked beans.  Always check the label until you become familiar with foods you can and cannot eat.   All allergies and food intolerance known to affect people’s health is highlighted in bold on the food ingredients label.

Living With Coeliac

Becoming accustomed to the diet will be a challenge at first but once this has been achieved life will not have changed that much from before diagnosis.   Have fun cooking and get the family to enjoy your type of food as well.  Someday a cure will be found but for now follow the gluten-free diet and stay healthy.

© May 2015 Healthybite

Allergies – Some Are Life Threatening and Need Urgent Attention!


Allergies Some Are Life Threatening!

Some people are not born with food allergies, they can develop suddenly at any time in life.

Most people at some point in their life will experience an allergic reaction of some kind; such as skin irritations, hay fever, asthma, and food intolerance, or food allergy.

Food allergies cause the immune system to react when certain food protein is digested.   It is as simple as eating peanuts or touching something like a wrapper that has contained the peanuts.  How much the body reacts when exposed to a food allergen ranges from mild irritation to the more serious anaphylaxis, which could be life-threatening.

In some types of reactions, there is mild tissue swelling or an itchy irritation.  Other reactions can include itchy or swollen lips, mouth, tongue and throat. Wheezing, noisy breathing or shortness of breath are other symptoms.  Diarrhoea, feeling sick, vomiting and feeling bloated (swollen abdomen) are types of allergy reactions. A swelling can vary from mild to causing an obstruction in the air tract, making it difficult to breathe (anaphylaxis, which needs urgent medical attention).

Some of the most common foods that cause allergies are milk, peanuts, eggs, soy, wheat and seafood. These products form part of the normal daily diet.

Eating out is a problem if you from food allergies.   When ordering food in a cafe or restaurant, don’t be afraid to ask if the food has any ingredients that could trigger off your type of reaction.

Most labelling on foods in supermarkets and shops will highlight the allergies; like gluten, dairy and nuts etc.

If you suspect that you’re allergic to certain foods, it would be best to consult your doctor, who will make arrangements for tests to see if you are suffering an allergy or have a food intolerance. These can include prick tests, elimination diets, blood tests and an endoscopy test.


Keeping a diary of what you eat throughout the day for several weeks, and recording how you feel, and what reactions you suffer after eating, could be helpful in diagnosing the problem.

© Healthy Bite November 2015