Did you know that roughly 80% of people living with coeliac disease don’t even know they have it? Yet, early diagnosis is vital in preventing long term damage and degenerative diseases.
Coeliac Awareness Week aims to educate the Australian public about the symptoms of coeliac disease, it’s associated complications, ways to get diagnosed and treatment options for the disease that affects roughly 1 in 70 Aussies.
Naturally, as a gluten-free cafe and restaurant we work closely with Coeliac Australia in all their campaigns, but this week in particular we’re helping spread the word, by shedding some light on this disease and the lifestyle changes you can make if you find yourself diagnosed.
What is coeliac disease?
In a nutshell, coeliac disease is when a person’s body reacts negatively to gluten (a protein found in wheat, barley, rye and oats). Eating these foods sparks an abnormal immune response that causes damage to the bowel. If left untreated, coeliac disease can lead to serious auto-immune diseases as well as conditions like leaky gut, chronic fatigue, and malnutrition (as inflammation to the intestines can hinder its ability to absorb nutrients and minerals). Long term malnutrition can lead to a bunch of conditions such as osteoporosis and anaemia.
Symptoms of coeliac disease include:
- Regular diarrhoea, constipation, abdominal pain, bloating or flatulence
- Prolonged fatigue (tired all the time)
- Iron deficiency anaemia or nutritional deficiency
- Sudden or unexpected weight loss
- Dental enamel defects or mouth ulcers
- Low-trauma fracture or premature osteoporosis
- Unexplained infertility or recurrent miscarriage
- Abnormal liver function tests (especially elevated transaminases)
- Peripheral neuropathy, ataxia or epilepsy
How to get tested?
If this sounds like you, there’s no reason to freak out because these symptoms can be caused by a whole range of health concerns (many non-serious).
The first thing to do is to book an appointment with your doctor, letting them know you want to get tested for coeliac disease. Before you try cutting gluten from your diet, you’ll need to get some blood tests done that check for gluten antibodies within your blood and to see if you have the genetic predisposition of the disease. If you eliminate gluten before your initial testing, it may cause your results to come back normal.
Because it’s quite a tricky disease to diagnose (*insert a very complicated and technical scientific explanation here) we’ll break it down simply. Coeliac disease can often go unnoticed because in some people it’s asymptomatic and not all people with the genetic predisposition necessarily end up developing the disease. So doctors may also use methods such as an endoscopy or a capsule endoscopy to further investigate whether or not you have the disease.
If your doctor does indeed diagnose you with coeliac disease, you will have to convert to a gluten-free diet to avoid causing long term damage to your body.
That’s where we come in, not only do we offer 100% gluten free menus within all our venues, you can sign up for our newsletters or follow our social media accounts to receive up to date information and lifestyle tips.
We also suggest heading over to the Coeliac Australia website and signing up to their information channels. They offer a range of useful resources for those cutting gluten out of their diet and are leading the way for research into the disease.
From March 13 – 20
In Coeliac Awareness Week to show our support of this great organisation, we’ll be sharing ‘Seven Days of Coeliac Support.’ Each day we’ll share new gluten-free recipes to try, helpful tips, information resources or lifestyle changes you can make to support your journey towards a gluten free life.
In our venues, we’ll also have donation buckets set up for Coeliac Australia’s 2021 Awareness Appeal. These much needed funds will help finance world learning research and contribute to Coeliac Australia’s ongoing awareness campaign that provides support and education for the 1 in 70 Australian with coeliac disease.