The facts about coeliac disease

The facts about coeliac disease

Coeliac disease affects 1 person in every 100, however, only 30% of people with the condition are diagnosed. Awareness of the condition is growing, but with so much diet and health information available, it can be hard to sort fact from fiction.

We asked our in-house dietitians to provide the truth behind the most common coeliac disease myths.


Once you are diagnosed with coeliac disease your symptoms will disappear in a few days.

Coeliac disease is managed by a strict, lifelong gluten-free diet. In the majority of cases, once you have completely cut gluten out of your diet, you should start to feel better very quickly. However, some people may still experience symptoms for up to a year after diagnosis. It’s always best to arrange an appointment with your GP to discuss your symptoms if you are feeling unwell.  


Coeliac disease is usually diagnosed in childhood.

Medical experts used to believe that coeliac disease was only a condition of childhood. However, over recent years our understanding of the disease has increased hugely. Demographic data now indicates that coeliac disease is most frequently diagnosed in people aged between 40-60 years old. Delayed diagnosis is common, the average time it takes to be diagnosed with coeliac disease is 13 years.


I just need to avoid the main sources of gluten, I don’t need to worry about cross contamination.

Even a small amount of gluten will cause symptoms and/ or damage to the gut in someone with coeliac disease. Therefore it’s essential to not only avoid all dietary sources of gluten, but also to take great care when storing, preparing and cooking gluten-free food in order to reduce the risk of ‘cross-contamination’ (the transfer of gluten from a gluten-containing food to a gluten-free food). To avoid cross contamination use a separate toaster or toaster bags and ensure chopping boards and kitchen utensils are cleaned thoroughly.  Also ensure you thoroughly wipe down all food preparation surfaces and store gluten-free food in sealed bags/ containers if gluten-containing food is also stored nearby. 


Coeliac disease isn’t genetic.

There is a 10% chance of close relatives of people with coeliac disease (parents, siblings, and children) also developing the condition. If you are concerned about a family member, discuss this with your GP.


Oats aren’t safe for people with coeliac disease to eat.

Standard oats are often contaminated with gluten during growing and processing, making them unsuitable for people with coeliac disease. Oats specifically labelled as ‘gluten-free’ have been carefully grown and processed to ensure they meet the standards required for gluten-free foods. Gluten-free oats are suitable for people with coeliac disease to consume from diagnosis. However, some patients may be advised by their healthcare professionals to avoid even gluten-free oats in the initial period following diagnosis and until symptoms have settled.


Codex wheat starch must be avoided if you have coeliac disease

Codex wheat starch (sometimes referred to as ‘gluten-free wheat starch’) is a starch derived from wheat from which the gluten has been removed to a trace level, below that which is considered safe for someone with coeliac disease to eat. Codex wheat starch is sometimes used by specialist food manufacturers to improve the taste and texture of gluten free foods. Whilst the vast majority of people with coeliac disease can tolerate codex wheat starch, some particularly sensitive coeliac patients may be advised by their healthcare professionals to avoid foods containing this ingredient.


All gluten-free foods are high in fat and sugar.

Gluten-free foods are often criticised for being higher in fat and sugar than their mainstream counterparts, however there is huge variation between the different brands and types of gluten free foods available on the market. Schar are committed to producing products that contain only the highest quality raw ingredients. Many Schar products have a similar or better nutritional profile than their wheat-containing counterparts.


I’ll know if I accidentally eat gluten because I will react instantly.

The reaction that someone with coeliac disease may experience after eating gluten will vary from person to person. Some may feel unwell immediately, whereas for others, symptoms can materialise hours later or even the following day. Some people may experience no symptoms at all, however it’s important to be aware that gluten will still be causing damage within the body and repeated gluten exposure is likely to cause long-term health consequences.

Schär is always here to help, if you have any questions please call us on Freephone 0800 161 5838 or email our friendly customer care team.