Wheat, rye and barley supply much of the world’s protein. Despite this fact, around 1 in every 100 to 200 people has coeliac disease.
This immune system response issue creates a sensitivity to gluten. Something that is present in all of the grains mentioned above.
How coeliac disease compromises the body
In those with coeliac disease – also referred to as celiac disease – gluten stimulates the immune system in a bad way which causes an inflammatory reaction. This thins out and flattens the lining of the small intestine. Over time this interferes with the absorption of nutrients and the person begins to get sick.
The symptoms of celiac disease
One of the earliest symptoms is chronic diarrhoea and fatigue. People with severe celiac disease usually lose a lot of weight and have difficulty gaining it again. However, it is worth mentioning that you can have celiac disease without any symptoms at all.
Testing for celiac disease
There are many tests available for those who want to know if they have celiac disease. However, it is important to realise that the severity of the symptoms determines which order the tests need to be administered in
The most common starting point is a serological blood test. If that proves to be positive an endoscopy/gastrocopy and biopsy is usually ordered.
Effective treatments for celiac disease
Currently the only effective treatment for celiac disease is a lifelong gluten-free diet. While coeliac disease is caused by a reaction to the gluten in grains such as wheat.
Gluten intolerance and celiac disease are not the same
It is important to realise that celiac disease is not the same as wheat allergy or wheat intolerance. They both cause digestive symptoms that very similar. This makes it hard to diagnose both of these medical conditions.
But, there is a way. Blood tests for coeliac disease search for the tissue transglutaminase antibody and endomysial antibody. Whereas, food intolerance tests that detect intolerances to wheat, rye, barley, gluten and many other foods through measuring food-specific IgG antibodies.