The second week in May is coeliac disease awareness week, but what exactly is coeliac disease, how is it treated and how can colonics help you with the symptoms?
What is coeliac disease?
Contrary to popular belief, coeliac disease is not an allergy to wheat or a food intolerance. It is an auto-immune condition. The immune system wrongly identifies one of the components of gluten, a protein called gliadin, as a threat to the body and attacks it, causing inflammation of the small intestine.
This inflammation prevents the surface of the intestine from absorbing nutrients in the usual way, as the fine filaments, or villi, that line the gut are flattened by the swelling, reducing the surface area.
What are the symptoms of coeliac disease?
Because the intestine is not able to absorb nutrients properly, coeliac disease can lead to a range of symptoms, including diarrhoea, bloating, flatulence and abdominal pain. The lack of absorption can also lead to malnutrition and anaemia, which will leave you feeling tired and lack luster, and can lead to unexplained weight loss.
How common is coeliac disease?
Coeliac disease is surprisingly common, affecting as many as 1 in 100 people in the UK. Often, however, milder forms of the disease go undiagnosed, or are dismissed under the catch-all diagnosis of IBS.
It is important to identify coeliac disease early, as long term exposure can result in damage to the small intestine and has even been associated with bowel cancer. If you think you may have coeliac disease, you should ask your GP for a blood test as soon as possible.
What causes coeliac disease?
The exact causes are not fully understood, but you are more likely to have the coeliac disease if you have a close relative who has the condition. You are also more likely to have the disease if you had a digestive infection, such as rotavirus, as a small child.
It is thought that the risk of coeliac disease may be increased if you introduce gluten into your baby’s diet too early, before the age of three months, especially if you are not breast feeding at the time.
Can coeliac disease be cured?
There is no known cure for coeliac disease, however, following a gluten free diet will usually reduce and eventually eliminate the symptoms. Following a gluten free diet will usually lead to a significant improvement within just a few weeks, although it can take as long as two years for your small intestine to recover from the damage caused by the disease.
A gluten free diet
Following a gluten free diet is not as easy as it sounds. You may not think that you consume that much wheat, barley or rye, but these grains are found in a wide range of common foods, including:
- Breakfast cereal
- Sauces and gravy
- Ready meals
When you are initially diagnosed, you will usually be referred to a dietician to help you to work out a balanced diet that is gluten free. There are also numerous support groups across the country, coordinated by Coeliac UK. Once diagnosed with coeliac disease, you will have to remain on a gluten free diet for the rest of your life.
How colonics can help
Colonics cannot cure coeliac disease, but the treatment can help to ease symptoms such as diarrhoea, bloating and painful wind. Once you have been diagnosed, colonics can support you through the first few weeks until your symptoms ease as a result of your dietary changes, and can continue to support you as your gut recovers.
In the longer term, even the most careful coeliac sufferer will occasionally consume gluten by mistake, and it can take just a small amount to trigger a return of your symptoms. Your local ARCH therapist is always available to help when this happens, easing your symptoms until you re-establish your proper eating regime.