About Celiac Disease
From the Celiac Disease Foundation
Celiac Disease (CD) is a lifelong inherited autoimmune condition affecting children and adults. When people with CD eat foods that contain gluten, it creates an immune-mediated toxic reaction that causes damage to the small intestine and does not allow food to be properly absorbed. Even small amounts of gluten in foods can affect those with CD and cause health problems. Damage can occur to the small bowel even when there are no symptoms present.
Gluten is the common name for the proteins in specific grains that are harmful to persons with celiac disease. These proteins are found in ALL forms of wheat (including durum, semolina, spelt, kamut, einkorn and faro) and related grains rye, barley and triticale and MUST be eliminated.
Diagnosis & Treatment
From the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness
Accurately diagnosing celiac disease can be quite difficult largely because the symptoms often mimic those of other diseases including irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, diverticulosis, intestinal infections, chronic fatigue syndrome, and depression.
Blood tests are the first step in a diagnosis of celiac disease. A doctor will order one or more of a series of blood tests to measure your body’s response to gluten. If the blood tests and symptoms indicate celiac, a physician may suggest a biopsy of the lining of the small intestine to confirm the diagnosis.
Do you have celiac disease? Check out the NFCA’s celiac disease symptoms checklist.
The only treatment for celiac disease is a lifelong gluten-free diet. Eating gluten, no matter how small the amount, can damage the intestine.
A gluten-free diet means avoiding all foods that contain wheat (including spelt, triticale, and kamut), rye, and barley.
Despite these restrictions, people with celiac disease can eat a well-balanced diet with a variety of foods, including bread and pasta. For example, instead of wheat flour, people can use potato, rice, soy, or bean flour. Or, they can buy gluten-free bread, pasta, and other products from specialty food companies. In addition, plain meat, fish, fruits and vegetables do not contain gluten, so celiacs can eat as much of these foods as they like.
Following a gluten-free diet may seem daunting at first, but, with a little creativity, anyone can make delicious gluten-free meals!
- National Foundation for Celiac Awareness
- Celiac Disease Foundation
- Celiac Sprue Association
- Gluten Intolerance Group of North America