If you're new to gluten free eating because you've been diagnosed with Celiac disease, gluten intolerance or a wheat allergy, it can be overwhelming at first. So many foods have ingredients that are unsafe for those following a gluten free diet. This page will provide an overview of what it means to be gluten free, and will provide links to resources that can help make this experience less overwhelming.
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. All of the information I provide is for information purposes only. I will always link to source material, so please click on any link if you want to learn more. I only reference information from trusted sites. If you see a source that you find questionable, please contact me with your concerns. For medical questions, always check with a medical professional.
What is Celiac Disease?
The Canadian Celiac Association states that "Celiac disease is a medical condition in which the absorptive surface of the small intestine is damaged by a substance called gluten. This results in an inability of the body to absorb nutrients: protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals, which are necessary for good health." (Source) It is an autoimmune disorder, that can trigger many other illnesses if left untreated. Gluten is found in wheat, barley, rye and triticale. It is also present in prepared foods that contain these ingredients.
What are the Symptoms of Celiac Disease?
The symptoms of Celiac disease are many and varied. Some may contradict each other. For many, there are no obvious symptoms. Here are a few of the most common:
Diarrhea, bloating, abdominal cramps, skin rash, stools that are grey, fatty or oily, anemia, fatigue, irritability. For a more complete list, please visit the Mayo Clinic Website.
Celiac disease can develop at any time in one's life. While it was once considered a children's disease, it is now recognized that it can affect people of any age.
Are there other illnesses linked to or associated with Celiac disease?
Dermatitis Herpetiformis (DH) is the skin manifestation of celiac disease characterized by blistering, intensely itchy skin.
Associated Auto-Immune Disorders
Insulin-dependent Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus, Liver diseases, Thyroid Disease-Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, Lupus (SLE), Addison’s Disease, Chronic Active Hepatitis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Turner Syndrome, Sjögren’s Syndrome, Raynaud’s Syndrome, Alopecia Areata and Scleroderma
Other Disorders Linked with Celiac Disease
Down Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Williams Syndrome
(Information taken directly from the Celiac Disease Foundation's Website. Source.)
How is Celiac Disease Diagnosed?
The gold standard for Celiac disease diagnosis is a biopsy of the small bowel. There are blood tests that can pinpoint the presence of genes that give one a predisposition to the disease, as well as ones that measure antibodies, but the biopsy is the still considered the most accurate measure.
For more information about the various types of testing, please visit the Celiac Disease Foundation's Website.
What is the Treatment for Celiac Disease?
Currently, the only treatment for Celiac disease is maintaining a strict, gluten free diet.