Celiac disease - an autoimmune condition

by Carol

I have suffered from an autoimmune disease near enough all my life.  I was diagnosed with celiac disease before I was a year old, and have had to follow a gluten free diet as it is the only “treatment” available.

My body reacts to foods that have gluten in them, as it thinks they are a threat! The autoimmune reaction causes inflammation and damage to my gut, in particular the small bowel. 

A healthy small intestine is lined with villi, small “hairs” that help to push the food along, which provide a larger surface area that can absorb the nutrients in the food. If a celiac sufferer continues to eat wheat, barley and rye, which all contain gluten, these villi will flatten and no longer do their job. The result is that the body becomes malnourished and can exhibit a large variety of symptoms. It was these symptoms that led my mother to taking me to a doctor as a baby, after I started eating solid foods.

The condition had only been recognized a few years before I was born and back then it was almost impossible to source gluten free ingredients for baking or thickening purposes. My mother had to order special flour from overseas in order to be able to cook basic recipes.

Nowadays, it is much easier! Most supermarkets here in the UK, and abroad, have ample supplies of ready made gluten free baked goods on offer.

In fact, people whose guts are not affected by gluten have taken to following the diet, in the view that it will make them healthier. There is, however, no medical reason for cutting out gluten unless you really have to. In fact many commercial gluten free products have higher calories than the foods they replace!

Celiac disease is not something I would wish upon my worst enemy!

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