by Zoe Herrman
The Coeliac Quandary
The Coeliac Quandary is somewhat new territory for most people. The Coeliac Organisation states that, ‘Coeliac disease effects on average approximately 1 in 70 Australians. However, around 80% of this number remain undiagnosed.’
Coeliac disease is a lifelong condition that means your body cannot tolerate gluten.
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley and oats and can be found in products such as bread, pasta, cereal, biscuits, sauces, condiments, cake, etc.
People with coeliac disease have been shown to improve in all areas of their life when they minimise or preferably eliminate gluten from their diet completely.
Coeliac disease can develop at any age but tends to be more prevalent amongst families with a genetic history of symptoms.
Symptoms can vary from person to person with some experiencing chronic symptomology and others who experience far less reactivity.
Some of the more common symptoms include:
Constipation and/or diarrhoea
The quandary lies in whether to be diagnosed or not and then what form the diagnosis should take. Once a diagnosis has been made, there can be a period of extreme overwhelm and resistance to change. A diagnosis impacts not only on the person’s dietary intake but also their social, emotional and all too often psychological functioning. Questions around whether the entire family goes gluten free in support and to minimise the risk of contamination if using the same kitchen facilities are all layers and areas for decisions to be made.
The ‘Gold Standard’, for diagnostic testing, according to Coeliac.org includes three steps:
A simple blood test
Keep eating foods containing gluten – often referred to as, ‘The 6 week challenge.’
Endoscopy - Which is a biopsy of the small bowel, performed by a Gastroenterologist, and under anaesthetic.
All three of these tests are standards and each potentially has a margin for incorrect diagnosis. A body that is gluten intolerant is at great risk of further damage should they reintroduce gluten into their diet in order to comply with the requirements of the, ‘6-week challenge.’ Gluten alters the microbiome of the gut, which is what the Gastroenterologist or Doctor will be looking for.
Dr Tom O’Bryan in his book, ‘The Autoimmune Fix,’ discusses the risks to heightened symptoms which could potentially reach life threatening levels following a reintroduction of gluten after a period of exclusion from a person’s diet.
There are a number of lesser-known tests such as a blood test known as a Coeliac Paneer or a Coeliac Gene Test available, all which have validity as well as a margin for error.
If you are diagnosed with coeliac disease, you will most likely be referred to a Nutritionist. It is important to maintain a diet free of gluten and packed with nutrition to support a compromised immune system and that your nutritionist is a specialist in this area.
Your doctor or Coeliac Australia will be able to provide lots of valuable resources and information which will be targeted toward the ‘diagnosed’ symptoms.
A Naturopath, with expertise in the diagnostic protocols and dietary requirements of Coeliacs disease, can arrange treatment protocols which may include dietary guidelines, recipes, menu plans, guided shopping trips, herbs and supplementation, as well as provide the very necessary emotional and cognitive supports required of a newly diagnosed client.
It is always a choice to seek diagnosis and important that anyone who thinks they may have Coeliacs Disease be correctly informed as to the potential risks associated with participating in a ‘6 week challenge.’
Below you will find some useful links or you are always welcome to contact me. In sharing some of the insight I have gained through my own personal journey. I hope to enlighten as many as I can to some of the challenges that people face when considering or achieving diagnosis of a chronic autoimmune disease such as Coeliac Disease and to provide hope that with qualified, wise support, others can and do lead fulfilling and purposeful lives.
Advanced Diploma in Naturopathy, Herbal Medicine & Nutritional Medicine. Bachelor of Technology (Marine Engineering)
Based at Blacksmith’s Beach
Coeliac Australia: 1300 458 836 or www.coeliac.org.au