Clinical Nutrition and Lactation Services Newsletter
October is Celiac Disease Awareness Month
What a great time to learn more about celiac disease and following a gluten-free diet. What is Celiac Disease? Symptoms for Celiac Disease Following a Gluten-free Diet Where to find more information about celiac disease and the gluten-free diet:
By: Jill Nowak, RD, CDE
Celiac disease is an autoimmune digestive disorder affecting approximately 1% of the population. When a person with celiac disease eats gluten an immune-mediated response causes damage to the small intestines and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food. Therefore, the only treatment for celiac disease is following a gluten-free diet. Over time if left untreated, celiac disease can lead to an increase risk for anemia, osteoporosis, nutritional deficiencies, skin disorders and other health problems. People with other autoimmune disorders, in particular type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and thyroid disease, are at increased risk for celiac disease. Unfortunately, it may take as long as 11 years to correctly be diagnosed with celiac disease. By being aware of the symptoms of celiac disease and discussing with your doctor to screen for celiac disease if you have another high risk autoimmune disorder, this time frame can possibly be decreased.
A gluten-free diet involves not consuming gluten, a storage protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. Most breads, pastas, breakfast cereals, baked goods and crackers have gluten. In addition, hidden sources of gluten are found in foods such as soups, sauces, and gravies. During recent times the gluten-free diet has become somewhat of a fad diet. Ironically, this diet could lead to nutritional deficiencies and weight gain because many gluten-free products are made with highly processed, unenriched flours and added fat and sugar. Therefore, it is strongly recommended that a person diagnosed with celiac disease seek nutrition counseling by a registered dietitian. Eating well on a gluten free diet is possible. Aim for eating gluten-free whole grains, choose enriched or fortified gluten-free grains, cook with less fat, and eat more fiber rich and calcium rich foods. Lastly, cross contamination is a major concern and food handling techniques is crucial in your own kitchen and when dining away from your home.
What a great time to learn more about celiac disease and following a gluten-free diet.
What is Celiac Disease?
Symptoms for Celiac Disease
Following a Gluten-free Diet
Where to find more information about celiac disease and the gluten-free diet: