Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks ingested gluten, and, by mistake, also attacks the intestinal lining. The damage to the intestines can cause a number of symptoms including:
- Abdominal pain
- Diarrhea and/or constipation
Celiac disease can also cause nutrient deficiencies and malnutrition. Long term deficiencies of iron, folic acid, and vitamins B12, D, and K can lead to anemia and osteoporosis.
Detecting Celiac Disease
On occasion, most people will experience some form of gastrointestinal distress, but a person with celiac disease will likely experience it on a daily basis. In some cases, the connection between gastrointestinal discomfort and gluten intolerance is missed, and celiac disease may go undetected.
Many cases of celiac disease are inherited, and it can also develop after an infection, injury, surgery, or even pregnancy. A simple blood test for gluten and gliadin (a gluten protein) antibodies can determine your level of gluten intolerance.
There is a solution!
Removing gluten from the diet is the simplest and most effective way to eliminate the symptoms of celiac disease. Adopting a gluten-free lifestyle will allow you to avoid medication and live a normal, healthy, symptom-free life. Gluten-free means avoiding many grains and grain-based foods including:
- Wheat (farina, graham flour, semolina, and durum)
- Matzo meal
- Most oats (unless labeled “gluten-free”)
- Bread, cereal, crackers, pasta, cookies, cake, pie, gravy, and sauces unless labeled gluten-free
Allowable grain-type foods include rice, corn, tapioca, quinoa, amaranth, and buckwheat.
Become Gluten Educated
Reading food labels and becoming educated about hidden sources of gluten are the keys to staying symptom-free. Gluten can find its way into normally gluten-free foods through cross contamination and is often hidden in sauces, medications, lunch meats, hard candies, natural and artificial flavorings, and even lipstick and postage stamps.