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Coeliac NZ - Awareness week



(Nutrition Marlborough Dietitian: Natarsha Mcewan)

With up to 80% of those with Coeliac Disease being unaware that they have the condition and living in a time where self-diagnosis is easier than ever, it is important to get the proper testing done through your doctor.

With the prevalence of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) in New Zealand thought to be 1 in 7 people and presenting a wide range of symptoms like that of Coeliac Disease (abdominal pain, bloating, distention, wind and change in bowel habits) plus a greater focus being put in the media on food intolerances, it is becoming common practice to see clients who have not yet queried Coeliac Disease.

Gluten is often one of the first components to be removed from someone’s diet when they are having gut health issues but often this isn’t to the degree that is required for the management of Coeliac Disease and is too minimal to allow for a positive test result to clinically aid in its diagnosis.

It is important for the public to understand that the current trend of going gluten free may be unnecessary with studies showing that gluten intolerance without coeliac disease is rear.

Monash Universities research is showing that FODMAPs (types of carbohydrates), specifically Oligosaccharides, appear to be the culprits of gastrointestinal upset and not that of gluten (a protein) regarding non-Coeliac Disease individuals.

For those who do not have Coeliac Disease studies suggest that gluten-free doesn't mean healthier, particularly when looking at some commonly used cereals, pastas, and bread, which make up a big component of the western diet. More research still needs to be conducted to assess the vitamin and mineral differences of gluten versus gluten-free products.

With an increasing awareness of food intolerances, food allergies and Coeliac Disease the extreme importance of their correct diagnosis and therefore management is becoming clearer.

Unfortunately, the true importance of something is often not understood until you are the one living it. My passion for health and wellbeing as a Dietitian and my pull towards my personal experiences with my daughter’s severe food allergies has shown me the importance of being your own healthcare advocate. See your doctor and registered dietitian for gastrointestinal concerns and don’t be afraid to ask questions and get answers.

The better individuals know the reason for their gastrointestinal upsets, the clearer the management becomes and the more serious a gluten free diet for those with Coeliac Disease will become.

! Be your own advocate – speak up, ask questions!