Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease where the body is intolerant to gluten. Learn to recognize its signs and symptoms and how to cope here.
Many people wonder why they are sick every time they eat. They experience fatigue, bloating, and indigestion so frequently that they become accustomed to the pain, but this can be very dangerous.
Celiac disease is a permanent intolerance to gluten, which is found in wheat, oats, rye, and barley. When people who suffer from celiac disease eat foods that contain gluten, the villi in the small intestine become damaged. The villi are unable to absorb nutrients such as protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals that the body needs in order to function properly.
It is an autoimmune disease where the body’s immune system attacks normal intestinal tissue.
According to the Canadian Celiac Association, it is estimated that one in 133 Canadians suffer from celiac disease. The same is true for Americans. Some well-known Americans with celiac disease are Elisabeth Hasselbeck, Keith Olbermann and Heidi Collins.
How to Recognize Symptoms of Celiac Disease
There are many ways to recognize that you might have celiac disease. Since celiac disease is thought to be hereditary, the most common way to know is if one or many members of the family have the disease. Statistics show that if one person has celiac disease, approximately 10 percent of the immediate family also does (Lifescript.com). If one member of the family has it, it wouldn’t hurt to get everyone tested.
If you notice that you constantly suffer from abdominal bloating, and cramps, and experience constant diarrhoea, these are good indicators that something is not right.
People with celiac disease are often misdiagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Other symptoms include weight loss, anaemia, and irritability. Many people with celiac disease are also lactose intolerant.
It is especially noticeable in children when the child complains of a stomachache after meals, if the child is constantly vomiting, and if the child is very thin and small in stature, or not growing and developing well.
If you Suspect That You are a Celiac
Once you suspect that you have celiac disease, visit your doctor. A doctor will conduct a blood test, or a small bowel biopsy to determine whether the patient is celiac.
If the test proves that you are celiac, you must take care of yourself. Remove gluten from your diet completely, and read the ingredients on everything you intend to consume. You should specifically look for “gluten free” foods rather than just “wheat free.” There is no known cure for celiac disease, but doctors will advise you to live gluten-free.
What Foods Contain Gluten?
Gluten is commonly found in bread, pizza, cookies, pasta, doughnuts, pie and anything that has a flour base. A common substitute for wheat flour is rice flour. Wheat germ can be found in beer, liquorice, and even on envelope glue (the part that is used to seal the envelope).
Watch out for cross-contamination, where gluten-free foods such as French fries may be cooked on the same surface that foods containing gluten were also cooked on.
Where Additional Information about Celiac can be found
If you are diagnosed as a celiac, go online and research the disease. Check online for gluten-free foods, bakeries and restaurants. If you are in the Edmonton, Alberta area, select Boston Pizza locations serve gluten-free pizza.
In Toronto, Magic Oven also serves gluten-free pizza and chocolate cake. Grandma’s Gluten Free Goods in Kitchener, Ontario serves gluten-free cup-cakes, cookies, and cake mixes.
New York City is known as the most gluten-free friendly city in America, and many restaurants in Manhattan such as Friedman’s Lunch, have gluten-free specials on their menus. Some gluten-free products to look out for are: El Peto, Kinnikinnick Foods, and Glutino.
The Dangers of Ignoring Celiac Disease
If celiac disease is left untreated, it can cause the sufferer a host of problems.
If you refuse to eliminate gluten from your diet, it can lead to depression. Young women are especially at risk because celiac disease can cause infertility. According to the Canadian Celiac Association, the continued consumption of gluten can cause damage to the lining of the stomach which you may not even be aware of. It can also lead to T-cell lymphoma, a rare type of cancer.
Although it may be tempting to have a bite of cake or a slice of pizza, just one bite of gluten is enough to cause serious and permanent internal damage. If you are celiac, living gluten-free is the only way to live a healthy life.