Coeliac disease (Part 3)
Over the last week I discussed causes, symptoms, and diagnosis of Coeliac Disease (CD)
From a medical perspective – the GP may require the patient to attend an annual check-up. This may not be much more than a discussion on progress together with maybe height and weight check. This relates to full absorption of calories and any height loss related to potential osteoporosis concerns.
Depending on the situation, the GP may also recommend supplements such a Calcium and Vit D, particularly in the months following diagnosis.
The simplest and most effective treatment for CD is excluding foods that contain gluten for life. With the immediate removal of gluten from the diet, the gut will begin to heal quickly, and the patient will see an improvement in health within a short period of time. Depending on the extent of the damage prior to diagnosis, it may take months or even years for the intestine to heal fully.
On the face of it, excluding gluten may sound relatively simple, however, for many, it is a daunting task. The new regimen of checking everything, food labels, menus, etc can prove extremely challenging. Even the smallest amount of gluten can result in the return of previous debilitating symptoms.
Most GP practices either have a resident dietitian or access to a local dietitian that they refer patients to. In the early stages, it is vital that the newly diagnosed patient consults with a dietary professional.
Unlike the austere and extremely limited gluten free world of 20 or 30 years ago, there is a huge selection of gluten free product now available in all the major supermarkets and food outlets. In addition, there are many local and online supports available. Some of the major organisations, e.g., Coeliac Ireland, produce and maintain extensive lists of gluten free products which are updated regularly, these will become an integral part of the patient’s dietary management.
Foods that can be eaten that are naturally gluten free include: -
- Fruit and Veg
- Meat and Fish (avoiding processed where possible)
- Rice and rice derivatives
- Most Dairy products.
- Gluten free flours
Another food choice available to a coeliac is Oats. Oats do not contain gluten, however, many coeliacs avoid oats as they can be cross contaminated with other cereals. The active protein in oats is avenin which is suitable for most coeliacs.
It is advisable not to include oats in the diet for a period of six months to a year from diagnosis and then introduce gradually, choosing only oats that are clearly marked gluten free.
For comprehensive and free health advice and information call in to Whelehans Pharmacies, log on to www.whelehans.ie or dial 04493 34591 (Pearse St) or 04493 10266 (Clonmore)