It is also often used in dressings and condiments like soy sauce, gravy and sauce that comes pre-prepared in jars. Some meat products, like burgers and sausages are also unsuitable for people with coeliac disease due to the breadcrumbs and/or wheat flour used to bind or coat them. Sufferers also have to avoid barley, meaning most beer is out of the question (apart from Estrella!) and even some standard oats are usually contaminated – so we have to be extra vigilant if we fancy some porridge! (And Goldilocks thought she had it bad?) People with coeliac disease often get categorised with people who are wheat and gluten intolerant and, while allergies and intolerances are just as important as any other kind of dietary requirement, eating wheat or gluten doesnt actually cause damage to the gut of a person who is intolerant to it in the same way that it does to someone with coeliac disease. Put simply; people with a wheat intolerance can’t eat bread. Someone with coeliac disease can’t even use your toaster. Without a completely gluten-free diet, coeliac disease can lead to other conditions such as deficiencies in some nutrients, osteoporosis, small bowel cancer and can also cause infertility problems. BUT it’s not all doom and gloom. In fact, it’s paved the way for us to be experimental with our food and put together some foolproof recipes that both coeliacs and normal folk (you swines) can love. Absolutely nothing is off the menu, you can still eat all of your favourite things, you just have to make the odd substitution here and there. And, what’s even better, is that you can put together Gluten Free meals without having to spend half an hour crying in the Free From aisle. There’s Gluten Free awesomeness everywhere – you’ve just got to look for it.

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Researchers Develop New Approach to Detect Coeliac Disease

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In a study of more than 2500 Victorians the researchers combined traditional antibody testing (measuring the immune response to gluten) with an assessment of specific genetic risk markers. They found more than half of Australians had genetic risk factors for developing coeliac disease. The research is published online in the journal BMC Medicine. Dr Jason Tye-Din from the Immunology division at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute and Dr Bob Anderson, chief scientific officer at US biotechnology company ImmusanT, worked with Barwon Health, Deakin University, Healthscope Pathology and the University of Queensland Diamantina Institute to develop and trial the new diagnostic approach. Dr Tye-Din said the new approach of combining the genetic test with a panel of antibody tests would increase the accuracy of testing, decrease overall medical costs by reducing invasive diagnostic tests, and avoid medically unnecessary use of a gluten-free diet. “Currently, bowel biopsies are recommended for anybody with positive antibody tests,” he said. “In this study the inclusion of a simple genetic test helped identify a substantial number of people whose antibody tests were falsely positive and who did not actually require a bowel biopsy to test for the possibility of coeliac disease.” Coeliac disease is caused by an inappropriate immune response to dietary gluten. Gluten can be found in wheat, rye, barley and oats. When gluten is consumed, it can cause a wide range of complaints from chronic tiredness, iron deficiency, osteoporosis, itchy rash, and headaches to various digestive symptoms. Coeliac disease damages the lining of the small intestine and can lead to significant medical complications such as autoimmune disease, infertility, liver failure and cancer. Coeliac disease usually develops in childhood and is life-long, but early diagnosis and treatment can reduce the risk of adverse health complications. Dr Tye-Din said the newly developed testing strategy showed coeliac disease potentially affected at least one in 60 Australian women and one in 80 men. Previous estimates had the number of Australians with coeliac disease as no more than one in 100. Although this study is the first to reveal that more than half of Australians have genetic risk factors for developing coeliac disease, it is not yet known why the disease develops in only some people. Dr Tye-Din, who is also a gastroenterologist at The Royal Melbourne Hospital, said the findings were surprising and shed new light on the medical burden of coeliac disease in Australia.

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