It seems like everyone these days is gluten intolerant. But what does it really mean? Don’t be the boy who cried celiac - get familiar with causes and cures in this quick guide to understanding the disease.
What is Celiac disease?
Celiac disease is an auto-immune disease which blocks the absorption of important nutrients from food. When a person with celiac disease eats foods containing gluten, their immune system creates antibodies (blood proteins that are produced as a reaction against alien substances in the body) that attack the lining of the intestine. Inflammation occurs and damages the villi, a hair-like structure on the lining of the small intestinal wall responsible for absorbing those important nutrients. As a result, the person is left malnourished, no matter how much or little they eat.
It is estimated that 83 percent of Americans who have the allergy are either not diagnosed or misdiagnosed with other conditions. Common misdiagnosed conditions include other autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Rheumatoid arthritis, Ulcerative colitis, Lupus, Psoriasis, Scleroderma and Multiple sclerosis.
Where is gluten found?
Gluten is found in grains, specifically wheat, rye and, barley and any foods made with these ingredients. Avoiding these grains also means staying away from pasta, bread, cakes, pastries, and beer. Also be sure to stop cooking with certain wheat-based ingredients such as white flour, wheat germ, and wheat bran.
What are the symptoms?
There are a wide number of symptoms that could indicate celiac disease, making it harder to pinpoint. Digestive issues like gas, bloating, diarrhea and constipation can occur. Fatigue, dizziness, migraine headaches or fibromyalgia are also common diagnoses. Celiac disease is genetic, and an estimated five to 22 percent of people diagnosed share the allergy with an immediate family member.
What’s the cure?
The only way to cure celiac disease is to eliminate gluten from your diet completely. So, how do you know? Experts suggest completely eliminating gluten from your diet for two to three weeks and then slowly re-introducing it back into your meals. Take notes about how you feel before and after to best determine if you have the deficiency or not. Almost anyone can get it, so make sure you know what you’re dealing with, if not for you then for someone you know!