Diet and Nutrition – Blog Series Celiac Disease

Celiac disease is more common than we think and many people go undiagnosed for years.  An estimated 1 in 133 Americans has celiac disease.  The condition is genetic, and if an immediate family member has celiac disease, the chance you may have it increases to 1 in 22.  Because so many cases of celiac disease go undiagnosed, family history alone is not always an accurate gauge.

Some symptoms of celiac disease include:

*Diarrhea

*Stomach Pain

*Fatigue

*Joint Pain

*Weight Loss

*Itchy skin rash (dermatitis herpetiformis)

There are dozens of symptoms associated with celiac disease and they vary from person to person.  Symptoms may occur in the digestive system or in other parts of the body.

Some people have a sensitivity to gluten and they assume that they have celiac disease; however, to properly diagnose it a medical review of your symptoms must be completed.  It also involves a blood test to look for high levels of certain auto-antibodies and a biopsy of tissue from the small intestine.

Celiac disease is not curable but can be managed and people diagnosed with it can lead long, healthful lives.

Diet and Nutrition

Eating a gluten-free diet is the only treatment for celiac disease.  Foods that are naturally gluten-free include fruits, vegetables, beef, poultry, fish, nuts, eggs and more.  A growing number of foods are being developed by manufacturers since there is such an interest in gluten-free products.

Even if all gluten is eliminated from the diet, managing the disease also involves getting all the vitamins and nutrients you need such as:  iron, calcium, fiber and the B-vitamins thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and folate.  Weight gain can be a side effect for people with celiac disease once they start following a gluten-free diet.  This happens since the body is absorbing more nutrients and calories from food.

See your physician or a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist to help you understand which foods are safe to eat and which to avoid and for planning meals at home and for eating out.

Be Well!

Sherry Jenko, DTR/Wellness Coach

Adapted from Eatright.org