So you’ve been told your coeliac and you’re cutting out gluten, that in itself can be a big enough thing to get your head around and it’s definitely where you need to start. However I’ve discovered over time there are a few other things to take into consideration when you’re coeliac and trying to get your health back on track. Here are 3 other things that are worth keeping in mind, they are certainly things I have had issues with but was never told about when initially speaking to my doctor about coeliac disease.
When I was first diagnosed as coeliac I was cutting out gluten but soon realised that I was still ill whenever I had something dairy related. Turns out this isn’t uncommon as if you’re coeliac you are more likely to develop lactose intolerance. This is because the lining of the gut has been damaged by eating gluten which can mean that the body does not make enough lactase or the enzyme that is made does not work properly so some may not be able to digest lactose. I’ve read that after time the gut will heal itself and you will be able to consume dairy products again, so far this hasn’t been the case for me.
I often find it quite frustrating when I hear people are going to the doctor trying to find out what is wrong and they are only eliminating one food group at a time to see if it’s that. You could be cutting out gluten but still having the effects of lactose as they are very similar. From the experiences I’ve heard, no two food groups were cut out at one time. Again I often hear people say they have been diagnosed coeliac but still have effects so many months on, this is never given to them as a possibility to try.
If you are in the same boat as me and can’t tolerate lactose then a top tip given to me by a nutritionist was to take a lactase tablet either every day or before I went out to eat somewhere. I avoid dairy but I always take one if I’m going out to eat, just in case. I have to say it really works for me and stops the cramps in the stomach when I have had something with dairy in.
I know when you look at this heading you think, ‘Malnutrition?!’ but yes, as in a lack of nutrients. Your digestive system is less effective so in some cases this can sometimes lead to a lack of nutrients in your body, known as malnutrition because your body is unable to function normally and it can be harder to recover from wounds or infections. In some cases you may feel fatigued, dizzy and confused plus you may find it difficult to keep warm.
Until I read about this I had never linked this but before I knew I was coeliac I was constantly cold, I mean it was ridiculous. I remember always complaining about the cold at my work and could not understand why no one else was. I worked in radio at the time and they just used to tell me it must be the air conditioning in the studio but no one else was cold in that studio and the engineer thought I was off my head every time I mentioned it! I had to wear a fleece! To me there has to be some sort of connection, even now I’m always colder than everyone else.
On and off for the last year I have had terrible fatigue and a feeling that can only be described as my bones just feeling achey and tired. I know it’s fatigue and not just tiredness because as coeliacs we know the difference, you too probably suffered from fatigue before cutting out gluten. I know it’s not gluten because when I feel like this it’s not that I’ve been glutened. However, after doing quite a bit of research one thing I found was that it sounds like a vitamin B deficiency which can be a direct result of coeliac disease.
So what is Malabsorption? Well that is when your body doesn’t fully absorb nutrients which can lead to a deficiency of certain vitamins and minerals. This can then cause conditions such as Anaemia, Vitamin B12 and folate deficiency plus osteoporosis.
I have to say I am so aware of my vitamins having studied diet and nutrition but B12 was not one I had given thought to. I’ve just started taking it and if anyone is thinking they might have the same thing then please feel free to get in touch and ask if I’ve found it’s made a difference. I know my iron levels are fine because I did get that tested and I do always make sure I get enough iron from what I eat. I think that is a key thing, to be aware that you may be more likely to lack in some nutrients and try to make sure you do get enough of what you need through what you eat.
All though not everyone with coeliac disease is going to suffer from these things I think it is always important to be aware of what is potentially related to coeliac and wish we could all be given as much information as possible when we first get a diagnosis. If you do think you may have any of the above then first thing to do is speak to your doctor, don’t do what I did for so long which is just worry. I would love to hear if anyone else has found out they have been affected by any of the above so get in touch and let me know.