What is Coeliac Disease and how can Naturopathy help you?

Earlier this month we celebrated Coeliac Awareness Week as most of us will know someone who has Coeliac Disease or you may be a Coeliac yourself. Coeliac Disease is a common autoimmune disease that affects people of all ages and can be genetic. 

You might know that people who are Coeliac need to stay away from gluten and any products that contain gluten as gluten affects the lining of the small intestine which is damaged by even the slightest consumption of gluten.

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, spelt, barley and oats. The only mainstream form of treatment is following a Gluten Free Diet.

The common symptoms of Coeliac Disease are very similar to Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and is often misdiagnosed as IBS.  Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) symptoms are also very similar to both IBS and Coeliac Disease and having a diagnosis is essential so that you are aware of why you are having these symptoms.

Common Symptoms:-

  • Bloating
  • Diarrhoea or Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Flatulence (passing wind)
  • Tummy pain
  • Fatty stools

 Other symptoms can include:-

  • Feeling tired all the time
  • Autoimmune Thyroid Disease (Hashimoto's Disease)
  • Mouth ulcers (severe and/or reoccurring)
  • Irritability and Depression
  • Unexplained mineral deficiencies - Iron, B12 and Folate
  • Low weight or slow weight gain in children


Did you know that you can still be sensitive to gluten and not have Coeliac Disease. As most people who suffer from digestive health conditions such as IBS, SIBO and Leaky Gut Syndrome, do so much better when they are swapping gluten products out to gluten free products. I know that I feel so much better when I follow a gluten free diet along with adding whole foods in as well.


How is Coeliac Disease Diagnosed?

As per Coeliac Australia’s website Coeliac Disease Diagnosis

Gluten challenge

It is important to not start a gluten free diet prior to being tested for coeliac disease. If a gluten free diet has already been adopted, the tests used to diagnose coeliac disease are unreliable, and can be falsely negative.

"Coeliac Australia recognises that there is limited consensus as to the dose of gluten and length of time a challenge is needed. However, as the gluten challenge is being done to determine with as much certainty as possible whether coeliac disease is or is not present, Coeliac Australia currently recommend including more gluten for a longer period of time to guarantee a correct diagnosis for the majority of people. Be guided by your doctor during the challenge period."

 Blood tests are used for screening

Blood tests (coeliac serology) are used to screen for coeliac disease. Coeliac serology measures antibody levels in the blood which are typically elevated in people with untreated coeliac disease, due to the body’s reaction to gluten.

A positive blood test needs to be followed by a small bowel biopsy to confirm the diagnosis.

A small bowel biopsy is essential to confirm diagnosis

"A diagnosis of coeliac disease can only be made by demonstrating the typical small bowel changes of coeliac disease (villous atrophy). This involves a gastroscopy procedure in which several tiny samples (biopsies) of the small bowel are taken. A gastroscopy is a simple day procedure done under light anaesthetic sedation that takes about 10 minutes. In the majority of cases, the bowel damage present in those with untreated coeliac disease is not visible to the naked eye. The biopsies are examined under a microscope to confirm the presence of villous atrophy."

What if it’s not coeliac disease?

It can be referred to as non-coeliac gluten sensitivity which describes a set of symptoms people attribute to dietary gluten, and medically the cause and treatment is not well understood.

There has been a lot of research into why this may be the case and it indicates it may not be gluten that is the problem and that the malabsorption of fermentable sugars (FODMAPs) may be the culprit as experienced with those with IBS and SIBO. As I have mentioned above the symptoms are all very similar in IBS, SIBO and Coeliac Disease and having the correct diagnosis and treatment is essential for healing your digestive system.

How can working with a qualified Naturopath support you?

Follow a Strict Gluten-Free Diet

As there is no known cure for coeliac disease, which is autoimmune in nature, there are only ways to minimize symptoms and help rebuild your immune system.

It is crucial to follow a completely gluten free diet by avoiding all products containing wheat, barley or rye. Gluten makes up about 80 percent of the protein found in these three grains, although it’s also hiding in many other products and grains with cross-contamination too.

Keep in mind that because a large percentage of people’s diets is now based on packaged foods, most people come into contact with gluten more often than ever before. Modern food-processing techniques can result in gluten appearing in trace amounts in products containing other “gluten-free grains,” such as corn or gluten-free oats, so please be mindful when trying these products.

It’s important to read food labels very carefully and avoid products made with additive ingredients that contain even small traces of gluten — such as nearly all flour products, soy sauce, dressings or marinades, malt, syrups, dextrin, starch, and many more “sneaky” ingredients.

It is safe to eat out as most restaurants will cater specifically for Coeliacs by having ‘safe food choices’ on their menu. I do recommend you call the restaurant ahead of time to make sure they are aware that you are Coeliac.

There is good news as you still have plenty of options when following a gluten-free diet, and today there’s even a plethora of gluten-free food items available on the market, including ancient grains and gluten-free flours. Please check the ingredients as a lot of the packaged foods do contain way too much sugar and hidden sugars as sugar feeds inflammation and we really need to follow an anti-inflammatory diet as well as being gluten free.

A lifelong adherence to a strict gluten-free diet will allow the immune system to repair itself, which will keep symptoms from flaring up. This process can take anywhere from a few weeks to many months depending on the severity. Avoiding gluten allows the villous atrophy in the small intestines or gut lining to close up once again and helps prevent future complications caused by ongoing inflammation.

Correct Any Nutrient Deficiencies

Nutrient deficiencies are a common in Coeliac Disease because the digestive tract (small intestine) cannot absorb nutrients as well as it should when damage and inflammation occurs, which means even if you eat a great diet, you might still have deficiencies. The common deficiencies include:-  iron, calcium and vitamin D, zinc, B6, B12 and folate. Many people with coeliac disease will need to take quality supplements to help rebuild their nutrient stores and heal symptoms caused by malabsorption.

I can organise tests to confirm any nutritional deficiencies and prescribe quality supplements to help speed up the healing process.

Avoid Other Household or Cosmetic Items Made with Gluten

Surprisingly, it’s not just foods containing gluten that you need to avoid in your daily life. There are also many non-food items that can contain gluten and trigger symptoms including:

  • Toothpaste
  • Glue on stamps and envelopes
  • Laundry detergent
  • Lip gloss and lip balm
  • Body lotion and sunscreen
  • Makeup
  • Prescription and over-the-counter medications
  • Playdough
  • Shampoo
  • Soaps
  • Vitamins

Herbal supplements can be prescribed that will assist in healing and nourishing your digestive tract and support immune health along with other conditions associated with Coeliac’s Disease and whether you are experiencing stress and anxiety.

Following a gluten free whole food diet is also recommended. Adding more plants (veggies, fruits, nuts and seeds) into your diet also helps to keep your large intestine healthy by feeding your good bacteria and creating a healthy microbiome which supports your digestive health and immune health.

If you are ready to find out how I can support you to have better gut health please book your consultation via the link below.

Work With Me – Katrina Froome Naturopathy


Yours in health and wellness,



Katrina xx

naturopath, ibs, sibo, coeliac, celiac, chronic disease, autoimmune, bloated, gluten free, constipated, diarrhoea


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