Cosa (Italie): 2,000 year old skeleton with earliest signs of gluten intolerance
The skeleton of an affluent young woman who lived in Tuscany 2,000 years ago shows that coeliac disease has existed for far longer than thought.
The woman's remains were found in an ancient tomb at the Cosa archaeological site on the Tuscan coast in Italy.
Researcher said the woman was affluent - and even tried to eat a paleo diet to deal with her problem.
Researcher said the woman was affluent - and even tried to eat a paleo diet to deal with her problem. However, the researchers say she could have easily avoided the probems if she had excluded cereals from her diet .
The woman’s remains were buried in a 2,000-year-old tomb at the Cosa archaeological site on the Tuscan coast in Italy.
Archaeologists discovered gold and bronze jewellery entombed alongside the woman’s bones, concluding she was relatively wealthy.
However, the skeleton of the woman showed signs of malnutrition and osteoporosis.
Both can be complications of untreated coeliac disease, which is characterized by a severe allergic reaction to gluten in the intestinal lining.
Researcher say the skeleton shows 'morphological and genetic features suggestive of celiac disease.
'Although the woman's diet appears distinct, chronic malnutrition resulting from severe malabsorption of essential nutrients due to celiac disease may have affected the isotopic composition of her bone collagen,' Gabriele Scorrano, a biological anthropologist at the University of Rome Tor Vergata, wrote in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology.
Many of the woman's bones were eroded at the tips, and she would have stood just 140 centimetres (4 feet, 7 inches) tall.
However, the researchers say she could have easily avoided the prob,ems.
'If she had excluded cereals from her diet she wouldn’t have experienced these problems,' Scorrano told Nature News.
'Probably she didn't understand she had this disease.'
WHAT IS COELIAC DISEASE?
Coeliac disease is a common digestive condition where a person has an adverse reaction to gluten - a protein found in wheat, barley and rye.
Eating foods containing gluten can trigger a range of symptoms, such as: diarrhoea, bloating, weight loss and extreme tiredness.
Contrary to popular belief, coeliac disease isn't an allergy or an intolerance to gluten. It is in fact what's known as an autoimmune condition. This is where the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue.
In cases of coeliac disease, the immune system mistakes substances found inside gluten as a threat to the body and attacks them.
This damages the surface of the small bowel (intestines), disrupting the body’s ability to absorb nutrients from food.