Preventing Celiac Disease

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You may have never heard of celiac disease, but it’s more common than you might think. One out of every 133 Americans suffers from the disease. Left untreated, it can cause some serious health problems. QUESTION: WHAT IS CELIAC DISEASE & WHAT PROBLEMS DOES IT CAUSE? Celiac disease is an auto immune disorder that damages the lining of the intestine in reaction to gluten, a protein found in certain grains. The villi or small finger-like projections lining the small intestine become flattened, making the intestine unable to make enzymes or absorb nutrients. If left untreated, celiac disease results in malnutrition and serious diseases like Type I diabetes, cancer, liver disease, osteoporosis, anemia, miscarriage and depression. The tendency to get celiac disease is inherited, but it often is triggered by severe physical trauma, emotional stress, viral infection, surgery or pregnancy. In the past it was thought that only children get celiac disease, but anyone can be diagnosed, and in fact more adults are being diagnosed each year. QUESTION: HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOU HAVE CELIAC DISEASE? The symptoms of celiac disease are vague and often overlooked. If you have been suffering with any of these symptoms for a long while without a diagnosis, you may have celiac disease and should ask your doctor for a screening test: CELIAC SYMPTOMS: Bloating and gas Weight loss Diarrhea Constipation Irritability Depression Joint pain Anemia Osteoporosis QUESTION: WHAT IS THE TREATMENT FOR CELIAC DISEASE? The only treatment is total abstinence from gluten. That means you must avoid ALL forms and amounts of gluten in the diet for the rest of your life. Gluten is found in wheat, barley, rye, spelt, kamut, triticale Oats do not contain gluten, but are often contaminated with gluten due to growing and processing with wheat Typical gluten-containing foods include: bread, bagels, pretzels, cereal Other foods containing gluten that must also be avoided: Bouillon and soup, gravies and sauce, dry roasted nuts, French fries, onion rings, imitation crab, luncheon meat, rice mixes, rice milk, soy sauce, food starch, seasoning mixes, non-dairy creamer, brown rice syrup and malt.