If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with celiac disease, or if you have often wondered if you’re gluten intolerant, read on. Celiac disease is a widespread condition that impacts over 2% of the population. With symptoms that can mimic other gastroenterology disorders, it can be difficult to diagnose. In this article we’ll define the disease, cover some of the more common symptoms and give an overview of diet recommendations. By the end of the article you’ll have a better understanding of celiac disease and how it can be treated with a few dietary choices.
What is Celiac Disease?
Celiac disease is an inability to tolerate wheat protein – also known as gluten. When people with celiac disease consume gluten, an autoimmune response is triggered which can cause damage to the small intestines. Over time, this damage can cause the small intestines to no longer be able to absorb nutrients found in any food. The complications of this disease are very serious including malnutrition. This condition is found in both adults and children. Approximately 1 in 133 people have celiac disease but unfortunately very few of these people have been formally diagnosed.
Celiac Disease Symptoms
Common symptoms of celiac disease include weight loss, diarrhea and various nutritional malabsorption issues. Symptoms vary depending on the length of time that absorption of nutrients has been disrupted – with stronger symptoms showing in people who have had nutrients blocked for a longer period of time. Some people with celiac disease report no symptoms at all. Other physical symptoms can include fatigue, weakness, dry skin, night blindness, muscle cramping, cramping and bloating among things. Emotional and psychological symptoms can include irritability, inability to concentrate, depression and moodiness.
Celiac Disease Diet Recommendations
On the positive side, there is a way to combat this serious condition. Treatment does not require surgery, medication or regular doctor visits. The only known treatment is the complete elimination of gluten from the diet, generally known as a gluten free diet. Gluten is found in many common foods such as bread, pasta, cookies and baked goods – but it is also found in processed foods like cereals, french fries and even soy sauce. Even foods that come in contact with gluten but do not directly contain it are discouraged. By avoiding all gluten and carefully self-managing what is eaten Celiac disease will remain under control.
The good news is that there are non-gluten variations of many of your favorite foods. You can find or cook gluten free bread, gluten free pizza, and even gluten free pancakes, so you won’t have to go without yummy food when you go gluten free.
Celiac disease is a serious condition that can be life threatening. Fortunately, once diagnosed, treatment is easy to understand – if harder to implement. A major change in lifestyle is usually required but once done can restore health and well being.