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What is Celiac Disease?

Aug 29th 2018

Celiac Disease is an inherited or genetic autoimmune disorder that affects digestion and damages the small intestine of those affected. When a person with Celiac Disease eats gluten foods, their immune system attacks the small intestine and blocks nutrients from absorbing into the body.

In the past it was believed that Celiac Disease only affected children, but we now know it can affect people of any age. In fact, over three million Americans have Celiac Disease! A Celiac Disease diagnosis is very important because people who go untreated for Celiac Disease are at a greater risk of developing other autoimmune disorders, osteoporosis, infertility, and neurological conditions. With Celiac Disease becoming such a hot topic, it’s important to understand the symptoms, how to get a proper diagnosis, and the proper gluten free diet for treatment.

Celiac Disease Symptoms

Celiac Disease symptoms can be tricky because some people affected with this condition may show no symptoms at all! But for the majority of people affected, the most common Celiac Disease symptoms include: 

  • diarrhea
  • bloating 
  • constipation
  • nausea
  • fatigue
  • abdominal/ stomach pain
  • joint pain
  • headaches
  • skin rash
  • heartburn/ indigestion
  • mouth sores
  • fluctuating weight/ weight loss
  • anemia (low iron)

Celiac Disease symptoms can also incorporate behavioral symptoms such as brain fog, irritability, and mood swings. It’s helpful to keep a food journal to track the foods you eat and if you experience any of these Celiac Disease symptoms in order to discover trends and triggers that may be caused by Celica Disease.

Celiac Disease Diagnosis

Unfortunately, it can take a long time to get a proper Celiac Disease diagnosis. It’s best to start with your primary care doctor, who can screen for Celiac Disease with a blood test to detect specific antibodies. Then depending on the blood test results, the second step in a Celiac Disease diagnosis would be an endoscopy and biopsy of the small intestine.

It may take a few repeat visits to the doctor before you can get a Celiac Disease diagnosis. Be sure to provide your doctor with your food journal and information about your Celiac Disease symptom history because both can assist with an early diagnosis of Celiac Disease and prevent complications later.

Celiac Disease and a Gluten Free Diet

Celiac Disease cannot be cured, but treatment in the form of a gluten free diet can help. The proper gluten free diet will help you manage your Celiac Disease symptoms and promote intestinal healing. Going gluten free may seem difficult at first, but with a little food knowledge, you can make good choices and avoid gluten containing grains such as wheat, barley and rye.

Gluten Foods to Avoid

When switching to a gluten free diet, avoid the following, or find certified gluten free alternatives:

  • Pasta/ noodles
  • Bread
  • Certain cereals
  • Certain sauces
  • Beer
  • Pastries
  • Granola
  • Gravies
  • All purpose flour
  • Crackers
  • Croutons
  • Flour tortillas

Naturally Gluten Free Foods

There are many foods that are naturally gluten free that are safe to eat:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Meat
  • Poultry
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Cheese
  • Beans and legumes
  • Nuts

Thankfully, maintaining a gluten free diet for Celiac Disease has gotten easier over the years because of the wide variety of gluten free products available at the grocery store. A gluten free diet is the only way to treat Celiac Disease symptoms. To find out what gluten free means and how to identify it in products, read more here, or check out our tips for learning how to eat a gluten free diet!

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