This week, 9-15 May, is Coeliac Awareness Week, which aims to raise awareness about coeliac disease. Here in UK, 1 in 100 people is affected by coeliac disease. But, a staggering 70 per cent of those people don’t know that they have it – that is currently nearly half a million people! While there has been an increased awareness of the disease within the general community in recent years, there is still a huge gap in people’s understanding of what it is and what symptoms to look out for. Many people may be suffering for several years before seeking a diagnosis.
So what is coeliac disease?
Coeliac disease is a permanent autoimmune disorder that causes an intestinal reaction to the gluten found in wheat, barley, rye, and oats. If someone with coeliac disease eats gluten, the cells linging the small bowel will become inflamed and damaged, which restricts the bowe’s ability to absorb vital nutrients from food. This can lead to deficiencies in vitamins and minerals, and cause a range of significant health problems.
Could you be at risk?
There are more than 200 symptoms of coeliac disease, with the most common being bloating and pain in the stomach, digestive issues like diarrhoea, vomiting and constipation, weight loss and fatigue. Because coeliac disease limits your ability to absorb vital nutrients it can lead to many other medical conditions. Left untreated, coeliac disease can cause chronic ill health and lead to liver disease, osteoporosis, other autoimmune illnesses and cancer.
A diagnosis of coeliac disease is the first important step to managing symptoms and reducing the risks of long term health problems. If you think that you or someone you know could be at risk of coeliac disease, we encourage you to take the quick online assessment from Coeliac UK.
Eating a healthy gluten-free diet
For those eating any free-from diet, making sure you are still getting essential nutrition is really important. Gluten itself doesn’t contain any vital nutrients, however, according to Harvard Health, gluten-free foods are commonly less fortified with folic acid, iron and other nutrients than regular, gluten-containing foods. And gluten-free foods tend to have less fibre and more sugar and fat.
Thankfully, there are a number of high-nutrition foods, like chia seeds, that are easy to incorporate into gluten-free meals.
Here are just a few of our favourite healthy, delicious gluten-free recipes:
Breakfast: Protein pancakes
Start your day with a stack of delicious, protein-rich chia pancakes. With almond meal replacing flour, coconut oil and chia “eggs,” this recipe is also great for vegans and dairy-free avoiders.
Lunch: Tuna Sweet Potato Jackets
With tuna and chia seeds both offering a rich source of healthy omega 3 fats, these sweet potato jackets are the perfect gluten-free lunch.
Snack: Banana Raspberry Muffins
Muffins without gluten, you say? Yep, you can do it. Hot tip: store these in the freezer and grab one on your way out the door in the morning. It’ll be thawed and ready to eat right on time for those 3pm hunger pangs!
Dinner: Chia & Zucchini Meatballs:
Who says you can’t enjoy a hearty, steaming plate of spaghetti and “meat”balls on a gluten-free diet?? This version (created by @healthyfrenchwife) is totally gluten-free and vegan.
Dessert: Berry Cheesecake:
Need we say more? The perfect way to end any day, this gluten-free dessert combines fresh, juicy raspberries with chocolate and an almond-meal base.
Balance is key
At The Chia Co., we believe in balanced, wholefood diets and that unnecessary food restriction should be avoided as much as possible. If you think you’ve been experiencing symptoms related to coeliac disease or gluten sensitivity, speak to your doctor before adopting a strict gluten-free diet.