The facts about coeliac disease
Coeliac disease affects 1 person in every 100, however, only 24% of people with the condition are diagnosed. Awareness of coeliac disease is on the increase, however, there is still some conflicting and incorrect information available for those searching for information on coeliac disease.
The Schär-gluten-free friendly Careline team is on hand 10am-5pm, Monday to Friday, for our customers who are seeking information and advice. We asked the Careline team for some of the common queries asked by our callers with coeliac disease in a quest to stamp out confusion and dispel the myths around coeliac disease. Tip! You may know all of these answers but there’s no harm in testing yourself by covering the true or false marker. Good luck!
1. Once you are diagnosed with coeliac disease your symptoms usually alleviate after a matter of 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, symptoms should alleviate, usually in a short space of time e.g. a matter of days. However, if symptoms persist arrange an appointment with your GP.
2. A person can be diagnosed with coeliac disease at any age.
A misconception with coeliac disease is that all patients are diagnosed at an early age and that it is a condition of childhood. In fact, demographic data indicates that coeliac disease is most frequently diagnosed in people aged between 40-60 years old. Delayed diagnosis is common and it has been shown that the average time it takes to be diagnosed with coeliac disease is 13 years.
3. As long as I avoid gluten-containing foods I don’t need to worry about cross contamination.
It is essential for someone with coeliac disease to take care in all aspects of food preparation to avoid cross contamination. This occurs when gluten-free food comes into contact with gluten. To avoid cross contamination use a separate toaster or toaster bags and ensure chopping boards and utensils are cleaned thoroughly. Also make sure to wipe down surfaces and ensure gluten-free food isn’t prepared in a floury atmosphere. For more information visit preventing gluten contamination if you have coeliac disease.
4. Coeliac disease is genetic.
There is a genetic element to coeliac disease; around 10% of close relatives of people with coeliac disease (parents, siblings, and children) are at risk of developing the condition. For more information see our page on is coeliac disease genetic?
5. If I have coeliac disease I only need to avoid bread, cereals, flour and pasta.
Coeliac disease is a serious lifelong condition where the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues when gluten is consumed. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. Whilst most type of cereals, bread and pasta do contain gluten people with coeliac disease need to be aware that gluten can be found in other food groups. Some foods may appear to be suitable for someone diagnosed with coeliac disease at first glance, such as sauces and meats, but it is always best to look at labels and refer to our "Foods to check" table. Coeliac UK, the charity which supports people diagnosed with coeliac disease, have also put together a food and drink directory which lists around 10,000 foods and drink products which are suitable for people with coeliac disease.
6. Being a coeliac helps me lose weight.
A symptom of coeliac disease can be weight loss. This is because the villi, the finger like projections found in the gut, are damaged and the body is unable to absorb the nutrients from food which can result in weight loss in some people. However, once a patient is diagnosed with coeliac disease and begins to follow a gluten-free diet he or she should see their weight stabilise and even increase as the villi repairs itself. If you have any concerns regarding your weight request an appointment with a dietitian to discuss this.
7. I have coeliac disease so I must avoid codex wheat starch.
Coeliac disease is managed by following a gluten-free diet. Gluten is a protein found in wheat and a number of other common cereals Some manufacturers, such as Glutafin, use an ingredient called codex wheat starch which helps to improve the taste and texture of products. Codex wheat starch is also known as gluten-free wheat starch as the gluten has been washed out to a trace level and is considered safe for someone with coeliac disease. The vast majority of people with coeliac disease can tolerate codex wheat starch.
8. Gluten-free foods for people with coeliac disease are higher in fat and sugar.
Gluten-free foods are often criticised for being higher in fat and sugar than their mainstream counterparts, but when the nutritional values of gluten-free foods have been examined they have been found to have comparable levels of sugar to mainstream products. The fat content of gluten-free foods varies significantly across different brands and products; therefore it is important to always check the labels of the gluten-free foods you buy. At Schär we benchmark our products’ nutritional values against mainstream equivalents. Some of our breads are also low in fat and low in saturated fat, such as the Ciabatta Rolls. See how healthy is a gluten-free diet for more information.
9. I will react instantly to eating gluten if I have coeliac disease.
A reaction to eating gluten varies from person to person. Some may know immediately if they have eaten gluten by mistake, whereas for other individuals symptoms can materialise hours later or the following day. Some may not be affected at all as despite being coeliac they may not show the classic symptoms of eating gluten. However, this does not mean that the gluten is not causing any damage to their gut if consumed over a period of time.
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.