It’s fair to say that going gluten-free has become somewhat of a national culinary trend, Supermarket shelves groan with the weight of gluten-free cereals and pastas; whilst many eateries now offer gluten-free alternatives to their usual fare. Is it all just a fad?
Coeliac disease is a condition in which the immune system reacts to gluten (a protein found in wheat, rye, barley and oats). In people with the disease, gluten damages tiny finger-like projections called villi, which line the small intestine. This reduces absorption of essential nutrients—causing symptoms including vitamin and mineral deficiencies, gastrointestinal disturbances, osteoporosis, and/or weight loss.
To complicate the picture, some people may suffer intestinal damage without symptoms. A study reported in medical journal The Lancet found that one in 141 people in the US suffer from coeliac disease, while more than 80 per cent of cases remain undiagnosed.
The report says Americans with undiagnosed coeliac disease continue to consume gluten to their detriment, while others without the condition may be going gluten-free unnecessarily.
According to Coeliac Australia, around one in 100 Australians has coeliac disease, but 75 per cent of cases remain undiagnosed. If you’re concerned, speak with your GP or contact Coeliac Australia for more information.
Phone 02 9487 5088
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Article written by Fiona Marsden