Coeliac Disease and the Gluten Free Diet
Coeliac Disease is a permanent intolerance to gluten. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, oats and rye. Because these grains are common food ingredients, it can be a difficult task to avoid them. If someone with Coeliac Disease ingests gluten, the small bowel becomes damaged. This damage causes reduced absorption of nutrients which can lead to weight loss, anaemia and fatigue. At present the cause of Coeliac Disease is unknown and the only treatment is to follow a lifelong gluten-free diet. Possible long term complications due to non-compliance with diet include osteoporosis and a type of cancer called 'lymphoma'. Coeliac Disease occurs in 1 in every 100 people in Ireland. It is most common in Northern European countries.