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THOSE GLUTEN AND LACTOSE PROBLEMS

Updated on May 17, 2011

MY STORY.

As I write this we are in the middle of COELIAC AWARENESS WEEK in the UK. As a person diagnosed back in the 1980"s with the disease and having suffered from the problems associated with the disease all my life, I am keenly aware of this nasty unseen disease that affects 1 in 100 or so they now say. Strangely, women are more prone than men to it.

Briefly, born in 1940, I suffered from the symptoms from the age of 2 to around 6 , as my parents told me.For reasons unknown, the symptoms then went away till I was 14 ,when they returned again for 12 months before leaving me again. I was in my mid 30"s before they again returned and as before, no medical reason was found, though my G P asked me if I thought I had Cancer! Years before his time, Dr Collis!

FOLIC ACID TABLETS WERE GIVEN BY THE HOSPITAL AND AGAIN THE SYMPTOMS WENT AWAY ONLY TO RETURN TOWARDS THE END OF THE 1980"S WHEN FINALLY, THE PROBLEM WAS DIAGNOSED , BY A CAMERA DOWN MY THROAT , AS BEING COELIACS DISEASE.

Following that and the subsequent advice from a Nutritionist, I arrived at 2010 without any further problem, till I was hit by the perforated bowel and subsequent Cancer problem in July of that year. I must admit here to being the architect of my own disaster, because I had strayed badly away from the gluten free diet ordered by both Doctor and Nutritionist as the years had progressed. Now, in remission from Cancer, my wife ensures that I stick firmly to the gluten free diet and scrutinises everything bought for consumption. Thankfully, now supermarkets are more aware of the need for gluten free and their ranges are improving. Still however, processed foods have to be mainly avoided as they contain gluten in abundance in most cases.

So ,what is this disease? Coeliacs Disease is not an allergy, and is not straight food intolerance. In Coeliacs, the body attacks its own tissues and affects the immune system. It damages the lining of the small intestine and stops the absorption of nutrients, leading to weight loss, one of the most visible signs of the disease along with diarrhoea.. The cause of all this is GLUTEN.

Gluten is found in wheat, barley, rye and to a less extent in oats. Thus, pastas, cakes, breakfast cereals and breads are off the menu unless made with gluten free flour etc.So too are traditional beers and lagers. As far as the last two are concerned there are now good tasting gluten free beers and also an alcoholic Ginger Beer,which is especially refreshing . Failure to observe the gluten free diet restrictions can lead to osteoporosis, anaemia, growth defects, infertility , sickness and nausea, bloating, and abdominal pain, symptoms and also, significantly, in my particular case, certain forms of cancer, including Lymphoma, which befell me.DO NOT TRIFLE WITH THIS DISEASE HAS TO BE THE MESSAGE!

Consequently, Coeliacs Disease is not to be taken at all lightly and now, G P "s are much better informed than years ago and will usually refer a potential sufferer to a Consultant without delay. It cannot also be stressed too highly, that once diagnosed, the gluten free diet is a MUST! I have learned to my personal cost, the folly of not following the rules exactly and am determined to do so now that my horse which bolted through the open stable door has been harnessed once more and securely contained, at least for the foreseeable future. 

LACTOSE INTOLERANCE.

Sufferers from Lactose Intolerance often have similar symptoms to Coeliac patients. The intolerance is found in the body"s reaction to sugar found in milk from cows, humans, sheep, and goats chiefly. It is also found in cheese but at low levels and not at all in soya or rice milk. Thankfully, these are now abundant on supermarket shelves.

Lactose Intolerance breaks down by action of an an enzyme called Lactase, the lining of the gut , as does Gluten. Gluten free followers quite often do not develop Lactose Intolerance and as with Coeliacs Disease, the answer is to be found in avoiding the products that cause the problem. For example,  breakfast cereals like corn flakes can create dual problems from wheat in flakes and lactase in milk. Thus, either cut out all together, or buy gluten free flakes {they taste just as good} and use soya or rice milks. Mentioning that highlights that in some areas the food industry has made great strides in producing for general purchase, gluten and lactase free products, but not in all. For example, a sandwich from gluten free bread is not a gourmet experience by a long way, though gluten free spaghetti is just as good as wheat based varieties. More efforts please, food manufacturers and supermarkets, say I! Specific advice should always be obtained from a Dietician, not a shop or pharmacy assistant on anything not clearly marked and a Dietician will also be able to set out a correct diet balance for the sufferer which will greatly assist in both recovery and normal living

Thus, both Coeliac Disease and Lactose Intolerance are not to be taken lightly, but with correct diagnosis and then dietary discipline on the part of patients, can enable those diagnosed to live a normal and fully active life. "Googling" Coeliac"s Disease will enable those interested to pusue deeper the factors involved, but the information above has been invaluable to me personally as a lay patient.

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