Few people understand Celiac disease, yet it is prevalent! Following the recommended gluten-free diet is a trendy diet to strive for these days, even if you do not have the disease! Here are a few facts that you may not know!
Facts about Celiac Disease:
- It's a genetic disease that affects both adults and kids, and you can develop it at any point in your life from infancy to late adulthood.
- It affects 1 out of 133 to 150 people.
- The cause is unknown at this point.
- It is hard to diagnose, and therefore 95% of people are undiagnosed or misdiagnosed! Many people struggle for years before they receive the correct diagnosis.
- It is an inability to digest gluten, which is a protein found in grains.
- It is an autoimmune disease that causes destruction of your intestinal villi, which is where absorption of nutrients goes on, so a person can become malnourished.
- Your body produces gluten antibodies, but they attack your own intestines and cause this damage.
- Symptoms are varied from person to person, but can include: diarrhea or constipation, abdominal pain, weight loss, fatigue and weakness, malnutrition, irritability, bloated feeling, and other gastrointestinal problems.
- Diagnosis is made by a blood test that tests to see if you have these gluten antibodies, but an intestinal biopsy is needed before and after a gluten-free diet is started, to know for sure.
- It is a difficult disease, because if it is left untreated it can lead to life threatening diseases, as well as: infertility, osteoporosis, neurological disorders, some cancers and autoimmune diseases.
- People with this disease are more likely to have Addison's disease, Down syndrome, Intestinal cancer or lymphoma, Lactose intolerance, thyroid disease, or Type 1 Diabetes.
- There is no cure for the disease, but the good news is that it can be treated with a 100% gluten-free diet which will eliminate all products made with wheat, rye, barley, oats and most other grains. People with this disease can go on to lead healthy, normal lives, and their intestines can heal!
- Healing by following a gluten-free diet is slow. Children improve within 3 to 6 months, but it could take adults 2 to 3 years.
- There are many helps for this diet including: great gluten-free cookbooks, Celiac disease support groups where members can share information, stories, and helps, processed products that are gluten free, and new flours to use as substitutes!
Celiac disease is very difficult to diagnose, and many people spend quite a chunk of change to finally get the diagnosis! Once you receive the diagnosis, you will need to develop new healthy diet habits that support a gluten free diet! Do not give up, if progress in recovery seems slow. Healing is slow. Learn as much as you can about the disease. You will need to make major lifestyle solutions!
Read books, join a support group, understand which foods are gluten-free, which grains can be substituted in baking, and relearn to cook! In the same way that recovery is slow, do not be lulled back to eating foods with gluten, because you feel okay eating those foods again. Damage is slow also, but it is happening! You will need to stay on a gluten free diet forever! Celiac disease can be controlled, but not cured, at least not yet!
A very helpful site about all things related to Celiac disease is http://www.adventuresofaglutenfreemom.com/ It is written by a gluten free mom trying to raise gluten free kids! It's great!
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