Coeliac disease or gluten sensitivity?

When your unhappy gut is trying to tell you something, could it be Coeliac disease or a gluten sensitivity? It’s time to listen!

Could it be gluten?

It’s crazy how many people have the odd or frequent symptom telling them their gut is not feeling quite right. Sometimes it’s tummy pains or bloating. For others it can be feeling a bit gassy or dog tired. Not a topic anyone likes talking about but you could suffer at two ends of the spectrum with diarrhea or constipation and we all know neither are much fun. There’s a whole host of things that could cause these nasty side effects.. one of those is gluten. For those with a diagnosis of Coeliac Disease, cutting out gluten is THE way to improve symptoms. But there are also those with a more common but less recognised gluten sensitivity.

Coeliac Disease

1 in 100 people have Coeliac Disease, yeah really! This is when the body’s immune system attacks itself when gluten is eaten. But shockingly only around 25% of people with Coeliac disease are actually diagnosed. If Coeliac Disease is left untreated, it can cause some worrying problems. It could be anaemia, osteoporosis, neurological conditions that affect co-ordination, balance and speech (gluten ataxia) and nerve damage (peripheral neuropathy). Pretty scary stuff! With so many not yet diagnosed it’s time to shout out. If your gut is trying to tell you something, listen, it’s cleverer than you think. And if you think gluten is the culprit, take a visit to your doctor.

Gluten Sensitivity

If your body isn’t all that keen on gluten but you don’t have Coeliac Disease it’s likely you have a gluten intolerance or sensitivity. There is currently no definitive test to diagnose this but there are lots of people who just don’t feel on top of their game when they eat gluten. The symptoms can be similar to Coeliac disease but it doesn’t seem to damage the gut lining long term.  It’s possible that you may be diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome instead.

The difference: Coeliac Disease vs Gluten Sensitivity

As people with Coeliac Disease and Gluten Sensitivity share many of the same symptoms, it can be tricky differentiating the two. A gluten free diet can be super beneficial for both but the biggest differences between Coeliac Disease and Gluten Sensitivity are:

A Crumb of Gluten

Someone with Coeliac Disease should not eat any gluten no matter how small. Even a bread crumb containing gluten could trigger symptoms. On the other hand, someone with Gluten Sensitivity may be okay to eat small amounts of gluten.

Blood Test for Antibodies

A blood test can detect Coeliac Disease but not Gluten Sensitivity. While eating a diet containing gluten, those with Coeliac Disease will have certain antibodies that can be detected in the blood that are not present for those with Gluten Sensitivity.

Gut Lining Damage

Gluten can damage the gut lining of those with Coeliac Disease which does not appear to be true for those with Gluten Sensitivity. Despite no long term damage to the gut, those with Gluten Sensitivity may still have many of the symptoms of Coeliac Disease.


Coeliac Disease is a permanent autoimmune disease and with no cure as of yet, it is a lifelong condition. With Gluten Sensitivity being an intolerance there is hope that it may only be temporary.

What can Coeliacs & those sensitive to gluten eat?

Someone with Coeliac Disease mustn’t eat anything containing gluten, not even a tiny bit! This can be a shock as many common foods contain gluten like bread, pasta, pizza, cakes, biscuits, breakfast cereals and lots more.  It also means checking that restaurants or friends cooking for you are using different pots, pans and utensils for the gluten free meals. For a bigger and better list, have a glance over here. But don’t panic, there are still loads and loads of naturally gluten free foods that can be eaten on a Coeliac Disease diet such as fruit, veg, meat and fish.

And there are tons of scrumptious gluten free foods. Obviously there’s the whole Genius range of crazy delicious gluten free breads, rolls, wraps and more… Why not head on over to the Things We Make page for all the details on what there is and where you can get it. With tons of naturally gluten free foods and alternatives, eating a gluten free diet should not feel like a burden. Check out our Gut Lovin’ Recipes for some inspo on damn good food that’s also gluten free.