Everything you need to know about coeliac disease (and whether you really have it)

Thinking of jumping on the gluten-free bandwagon? Better think again. GlutenFreeChops/Flickr Jason Tye-Din, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute The Neolithic Revolution introduced a whole range of new foods and proteins into the human digestive tract. But this phenomenal change created the perfect conditions for the rise of coeliac disease. While most proteins were readily consumed, some people’s immune systems struggled to tolerate others. Wheat was the first cereal to be widely domesticated, and in the case of the gluten protein from wheat, the result of this struggle was coeliac disease. When people with coeliac disease consume gluten, an abnormal immune reaction occurs causing inflammation and damage to the small bowel lining. This impairs absorption of nutrients and can lead to a wide range of symptoms and medical complications. Ancient condition, 20th century treatment The second century Greek physician Arateus is credited with coining the term coeliac disease, or “koilia…
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Gluten free diets aren’t easy, but if you slip up a dietary supplement could help

Even after many years on a gluten-free diet, many Australians with coeliac disease continue suffering persistent symptoms. from shutterstock.com Finlay Alistair Macrae, Melbourne Health When people with coeliac disease eat foods containing gluten, they have an abnormal immune reaction. This results in inflammation and damage to their small bowel lining. But the trouble doesn’t always go away for those coeliac sufferers who stay away from gluten. Studies show even after years on a gluten-free diet, many Australians with coeliac disease fail to heal their bowel, or continue suffering persistent symptoms. It’s hard to adhere to a lifelong gluten-free diet. It is expensive and can be be socially isolating. But even those who remain vigilant can find complete avoidance of gluten a challenge due to hidden sources of gluten. Gluten is mainly found in wheat, rye and barley – some research also suggests it can be present in certain oat varieties. Common hidden sources of gluten are …
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If you don’t have coeliac disease, avoiding gluten isn’t healthy

Of the many food fads, “gluten free” is one that can be unhealthy. from www.shutterstock.com Suzanne Mahady, Monash University Coeliac disease, an allergy to gluten that causes damage to the intestine, affects 1% of Australians. But more than ten times this number, or around 11% of the population, follows a gluten-free diet by choice, and up to 30% of people in the United States try to reduce their gluten intake. Gluten-free foods are frequently perceived as a healthier alternative, because of a alignment with a “wellness lifestyle”. But is there scientific evidence to support this? Are gluten-free diets healthier? Recent large studies have not found health benefits for a gluten-free diet, and in fact the opposite may be true.   Read more: Health Check: should I choose a gluten-free diet? Researchers followed a group of more than 100,000 people in the US for nearly 30 years and found a gluten-free diet was not associated with a healthier heart. It’s not clear …
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