Celiac Disease Awareness Month
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. It is the glue that gives bread its wonderful ability to rise while maintaining shape and a chewy texture. About 1 in every 100 people worldwide have a genuine allergy to gluten, known as celiac disease. Others can have a gluten sensitivity; in which they experience some of the symptoms of celiac disease, but do not test positive for the disease.
In those with celiac disease, the immune system attacks the small intestine in response to eating gluten. The damage to the small intestine affects its ability to absorb nutrients, ultimately resulting in health complications, such as osteoporosis, anemia, migraines, infertility, and miscarriage.
Celiac disease can come on at any age, and its onset can be affected by environmental, immunologic, and genetic conditions. Surgery, pregnancy, childbirth, infections, or severe stress can impact the onset of the disease.
The only “cure” for celiac disease or gluten sensitivity is a gluten-free diet. Truly following a gluten-free diet involves more than just swapping out your bread for gluten-free bread or choosing the gluten-free pasta at your favorite Italian restaurant. It involves being diligent about reading labels, checking your medications and supplements, and using separate food preparation equipment.
Celiac disease is a hereditary condition, and those with a family member with the condition have a 1 in 10 chance of also having or developing the condition. Many people with the disease do not have any symptoms, which is why an estimated 2.5 million Americans have undiagnosed celiac disease. In honor of celiac disease awareness month, consider getting tested if you have a family member with the disease or believe you have some of the symptoms.
If you want to talk with me more about celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, or how to correctly follow a gluten-free diet, schedule an appointment online or by calling the clinic at (970) 372-1277. Later this month I will have an article with a list of delicious snacks that are gluten-free!