What is coeliac disease?

What is coeliac disease?

Coeliac disease is an autoimmune condition brought on by an intolerance to gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye.


What is Coeliac Disease?

Coeliac disease (pronounced see-lee-ak and spelt celiac in other countries) is an autoimmune condition that results in a permanent intolerance to gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, barley and oats*. When a person with coeliac disease eats food that contains gluten, the body’s own immune system attacks and damages the delicate lining of the small bowel. This type of reaction is called an ‘autoimmune’ reaction.

Coeliac disease affects approximately 1% of the population, although only 30% of people have been diagnosed.  This means that there are approximately 500,000 people in the UK who do not yet know they have the condition.  Coeliac disease can be inherited within families, the likelihood of having it increases to 1 in 10 if one of your close family members has the condition.. The only treatment for coeliac disease is a life-long gluten-free diet.

*Standard oats are often contaminated with gluten during growing and processing. Oats specifically labelled as ‘gluten-free’ are suitable for people with coeliac disease to consume from diagnosis. Always follow the advice of your healthcare professional.