Jessica Siegel's Healthy Family Blog - Gelson's

 

Celiac Awareness Month

 

Many people have never heard of celiac disease but almost everyone has heard of gluten by now.  The two are related because people who have the genetic autoimmune disorder called celiac disease cannot tolerate eating any gluten, the protein found in wheat, rye, and barley.  Approximately 1% of Americans have celiac disease, but only a small fraction of that population has actually been diagnosed with the disease, which can develop at any age.  

For these sensitive individuals, eating gluten damages the small intestine so that, over time, nutrients such as protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals are unable to be absorbed, often leading to nutritional deficiencies, malnutrition, osteoporosis, heart disease, and even cancer, especially lymphoma.  Symptoms of celiac disease can be nonexistent or can include bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation, vomiting, migraines, depression, bone or joint pain, canker sores, weight loss or weight gain, infertility, or acid reflux; children and infants can exhibit delayed growth and failure to thrive.    The only treatment for celiac disease is a strict gluten-free diet for life.*

The good news is that a gluten-free diet can still be a healthy, well-balanced diet.  Vegetables, fruit, fish, beans, legumes, nuts, poultry, meat, eggs, milk and dairy products, and certain grains are all naturally free of gluten and should form the basis of everyone’s diet.  Potatoes, corn, peas, winter squash, and sweet potatoes are starchy vegetables that can stand in for other starches in the diet, and gluten-free grains such as rice, wild rice, quinoa, cornmeal, sorghum, millet, buckwheat, and uncontaminated oats can replace the forbidden grains.  Avoiding gluten takes some getting used to, but it has never been easier than it is today.

For an extensive list of gluten-free foods that can be found at Gelson’s, download my No Gluten Ingredient Listing.  If you think that you or a loved one may have celiac disease, visit www.celiac.org for more information.

For questions regarding any of your dietary concerns, feel free to call me directly at 1-800-GELSONS.


*You should not start a gluten-free diet without the advice of a gastroenterologist if you suspect you have celiac, since extensive testing first needs to be performed in order to get an accurate diagnosis.  Starting a gluten-free diet before diagnosis can yield negative or inconclusive test results.