Coeliac Disease Myths

It is rare

Coeliac disease affects 1 in 100 people in the UK and is under-diagnosed. Often confused with irritable bowel syndrome or missed because it is symptomless, coeliac disease is often described like an ice-berg. Those who are diagnosed are above the water and there are many many more under the water who are yet to be diagnosed.


It is a food allergy

Actually it is an autoimmune disease. Eating gluten does not elicit an immune response but it does cause damage to the lining of the intestines.


You need to have symptoms

Symptoms can vary from person to person and many can be symptomless. The symptoms can affect all areas of the body with some of the lesser known ones being mouth ulcers and hair loss.


A small amount of gluten won’t harm you

This is true in the case of those following a gluten free diet as a lifestyle choice. However if you have coeliac disease gluten does cause you harm. Even if you are symptom free, a few crumbs can damage the villi in the gut lining and increase your risk of lymphoma, osteoporosis and certain cancers.


Use separate utensils, chopping boards and crockery for cooking and food preparation, or clean them thoroughly before use. Check items such as the grill pan, toaster, butter and jam are free from crumbs before using. When eating out check that separate serving utensils are used and that the eating place understand the issues with cross-contamination.

Gluten free foods contain no gluten

It is very hard to make foods such as bread 100% gluten free and eating food with no gluten at all would be very limiting. Gluten free foods can contain up to 20 parts per million of gluten and be safe for those with coeliac disease.


A negative blood test means you don’t have coeliac disease

It is possible to have a false negative test result. This means the test comes back negative but is incorrect. Reasons for this could be you are not eating enough gluten at the time of the test or you are do not have IgA in your body.


Oats are gluten free

You can buy pure, gluten free oats. However normal oats are often contaminated with gluten due to the processing method. Moderate amounts of oats (50-70g/day) are usually safe for adults with coeliac disease but some people are extra sensitive.


You can outgrow it

Sadly not. Coeliac disease is for life as is the gluten free diet.