Nutritionist Joanna McMillan looks at the gluten-free diet everyone can enjoy.
What is Coeliac disease?
Coeliac disease is a medical condition and is a permanent intolerance to dietary gluten. In people with coeliac disease the cells which line the small intestine (bowel) become damaged by the ingestion of gluten, a protein found in certain grains including wheat, barley and rye. This process causes a flattening of the tiny, finger like projections, called villi, which line the inside of the bowel, and is called villous atrophy.
The function of small intestine is to break down and absorb the nutrients in food. In untreated coeliac disease, the cells lining the small intestine become flat and inflamed and their surface area is significantly reduced. This results in a reduction in the absorption of nutrients from food. This leads to deficiencies in vitamins, iron, folic acid and calcium, because of poor absorption. Sugars, proteins and fats are often poorly absorbed as well.
Is there a cure for coeliac disease?
People with coeliac disease will always be sensitive to dietary gluten. At present there is no known cure for the condition. However, coeliac disease can be treated by removing gluten totally from the diet: by following a gluten-free diet for life.
Learn more about Coeliac disease
Video: Nutritionist Joanna McMillan looks at the gluten-free diet everyone can enjoy.