Coeliac Disease and IBS

Coeliac Disease

Coeliac disease is an autoimmune disorder of the small intestine. It is caused by a reaction to gluten, which is a protein found in wheat and other grains.  It causes inflammation and damage to the lining of the small intestine which can make it harder for your body to absorb nutrients. Symptoms can include;

  • Chronic diarrhoea
  • Stomach cramps
  • Failure to thrive in children
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Fatigue
  • Bloating
  • Anaemia
  • Chronic skin rash

However, some people may not experience any of these symptoms. Although symptoms may be similar, coeliac disease should not be confused with wheat allergy or food intolerance’s. If coeliac disease is left untreated there can be many long-term risks including nutrient deficiencies, osteoporosis and bowel cancer.

Currently, the only treatment for coeliac disease is to follow a lifelong gluten-free diet. This allows the wall of the small intestines to heal and for digestion to return to normal. It is important to remember that although you may feel well, eating small amounts of gluten will cause damage to the wall of the small intestine.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Fructose Malabsorption

Fructose is a carbohydrate that is absorbed in the small intestine. However, in fructose malabsorption the normal absorption of fructose is impaired. This causes symptoms such as bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, constipation and excessive wind. These symptoms are also commonly seen in individuals with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

IBS is a common gastrointestinal disorder that affects 1 in 7 adults. It is characterised by symptoms that are not explained by other disorders such as coeliac disease and inflammatory bowel disease. The most common symptoms of IBS include;

  • Stomach pain
  • Bloating
  • Wind
  • Diarrhoea
  • Constipation
  • Nausea

Carbohydrates play a vital role in our body. They provide us with the energy we require for normal everyday functioning and are the number one fuel source for our brain. The dietary cause of the symptoms associated with IBS is largely due to a group of dietary carbohydrates called FODMAPs (Fermentable, Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols). These carbohydrates can be poorly absorbed in the small intestine and then pass into the large intestine where they are digested/fermented by bacteria to produce gas. This fermentation leads to the symptoms associated with IBS. Examples of FODMAPs include fructose, lactose, fructans, sorbitol and raffinose. However, there can also be other factors that trigger symptoms.

Treatment and Management

It is extremely important that these conditions are not self-diagnosed as there may be other medical issues causing similar symptoms. If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms there is a chance you may have coeliac disease or IBS. At Healthy Body Healthy Mind Nutrition Services we will conduct a thorough investigation of your symptoms and will assist you in finding the problem foods and show you simple dietary modifications which will help improve and prevent your symptoms. We will also assist you with following gluten-free and low FODMAP diets and incorporating these into a healthy balanced diet.

Having IBS and a food allergy requiring her to follow a gluten-free diet herself, our Dietitian is able to offer you practical advice and strategies on living with and managing these conditions. Our Dietitian has also completed the low FODMAP diet when diagnosing her food allergies and intolerance’s. We are here to assist you and are happy to answer any questions you may have.