Coeliac Disease: Frequently Asked Questions
This blog covers some general questions around Coeliac Disease if you haven't read my blog on the background of coeliac disease, including diagnosing, treatment, and what to be aware of when following a gluten free diet. You can find it here.
Is Coeliac Disease the Same as Having an Allergy to Wheat?
Coeliac disease and having an allergy to wheat are not the same thing. As previously mentioned, coeliac disease is an autoimmune disease, whereby the body’s immune system attacks itself when gluten is consumed. It is not a food allergy or an intolerance to gluten. Whereas a wheat allergy is a reaction to proteins in wheat, and is triggered by the immune system, and happens very soon after eating wheat, within minutes.
I talk about allergies and intolerances in this blog if you want to know more.
Gluten Free and Vegan Crepes, recipe here.
Is There Any Genetic Predisposition with Coeliac Disease?
There is a genetic link with the Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) genes, which runs through families, however, this doesn’t mean that just because you have a relative (even first degree) with the condition, you’ll develop coeliac disease. Those who are diagnosed with coeliac disease have either HLA DQ2, or HLA DQ8, you have this genetic factor to develop coeliac disease, but it doesn’t mean that you will definitely develop it. Up to 40% of the general population actually carry one of these DQ genes, however, as mentioned before most will not develop coeliac disease, it just means that you may develop it in the future. However, this is not the full story, as it seems that it is an interaction between genetics and the environment. As with everything, more research is going into what causes coeliac disease, and any other genes which may potentially play a role.
Is There Any Relationship Between Coeliac Disease and Gut Health?
Coeliac disease can also impact the gut microbiota. Studies have shown that the microbiota may be somehow involved in the pathogenesis (development), progression, and clinical presentation (symptoms) of coeliac disease. It has been found that those with coeliac disease when compared to healthy subjects, have a reduction in the number of beneficial bacteria (Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium), and a higher level of gram-negative bacteria, and Bacteroides which considered pathogenic. This microbial imbalance (also known as dysbiosis) can be reduced when a gluten free diet is followed, however, there is a chance that the imbalance may remain for some individuals.
It has been indicated that using probiotics may be helpful in reducing the inflammatory response caused by coeliac disease, whilst also increasing the number of beneficial bacteria in the individual’s gastrointestinal tract. This is still a relatively new area, so more research into the clinical role of probiotics in coeliac disease is needed.
Fibre is a great way to help feed your gut microbiota
Can I Grow Out of Being a Coeliac?
To simply put it, no you can’t. Coeliac disease is lifelong, and not something that you can grow out of, or be cured from. The only way to treat it is to follow a gluten free diet.
As mentioned before, to test someone to see if they have coeliac disease, they need to be consuming gluten, So if someone who was following a gluten-free diet and was a coeliac was re-tested for coeliac disease, it would come up as negative because there will be no antibodies in the blood, as the immune system is not reacting to gluten. If someone who has been found to have coeliac disease, if they reintroduce gluten back into their diet, the lining of their small intestine will get damaged. Even if you don’t show symptoms when you eat gluten containing products, you will still be causing damage.
Is Gluten Sensitivity the Same as Coeliac Disease?
No, it’s not and this is a really interesting topic that’ll I’ll be covering in another blog!
Gluten Free and Vegan Apple Cake, recipe here.
If you want to know more about Coeliac Disease Coeliac UK is an informative website with lots of information which you can access here if you want to know more about coeliac disease, and well as the NICE guidelines, which can be viewed here.
I hope you have enjoyed these blogs and please don’t forget that they’re not a replacement from medical advice from your health care practitioner. If you are concerned about something, including if you have coeliac disease please talk to your GP.
Daisy, MSc PGDip ANutr, is a Registered Associate Nutritionist with a Master's Degree in Public Health Nutrition, and a Post Graduate Diploma in Eating Disorders and Clinical Nutrition, both of which are Association for Nutrition (AFN) accredited. She, also, has a BSc degree in Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience; and has completed an AFN accredited Diet Specialist Nutrition course.
Daisy has worked for an NHS funded project, the Diabetes Prevention Programme; and shadowed a nutritionist in Harley Street.
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