Celiac is a lifelong digestive disorder that is affecting 2.2 million Americans, according to the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Program. The number in the United States, according to the university, is estimated as high as one in 133 individuals, but only one in 4,700 have been diagnosed. A study titled “Depressive symptoms in adult celiac disease” conducted by the Department of Gastroenterology, University of Naples, Italy found that the disease is more frequent in women, more severe and more rapid. Women comprise approximately 75 percent of newly diagnosed adult celiac disease cases.
Often misdiagnosed as irritable bowel syndrome, chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia, the most common symptoms of Celiac disease include recurring abdominal pain and bloating, gas and severe diarrhea. There are wide variations in the symptoms of this disease and this makes the diagnosis challenging for health-care providers. Undiagnosed or untreated, it can lead to diabetes, muscle cramps, migraines, infertility, osteoporosis, anemia and nerve damage.
Celiac disease causes the intestines to become swollen and it reacts badly to a protein called gluten found in wheat, barley, and rye. Gluten damages the intestines and prevents the human body from taking in many of the nutrients in the food one eats. This includes vitamins, calcium, protein, carbohydrates, fats and other important nutrients. Other names for celiac disease are celiac sprue and gluten-sensitive enteropathy.
Considered a hereditary disease, about one out of 10 family members is likely to have it if one member of a family suffers from celiac disease. This disease is serious, but it could be controlled by not eating any gluten. By following the right diet, one can reverse the damage and feel better but cheating on diet could result in its resumption. Treatment to this disease is sticking to a gluten-free diet. One should never eat foods that contain wheat, barley, or rye. Products made with rice, corn, or soy flour are safe if no gluten has been added. The foods that are naturally gluten free are fruits and vegetables, meat--plain meat, fish, poultry, eggs, nuts, seeds, legumes, milk, cheese, yogurt, rice and potatoes.
1. Michelle, Michelle Browning “: Celiac disease forces many to go gluten-free” The Noblesville Ledger (Noblesville, IN) August 12, 2003
2. Stitt, Dr. Van, “Celiac Disease A Serious Matter”, The Charlotte Observer, August 17, 2003