Celiac Disease is a disorder caused by an intolerance to gluten, or similar proteins in wheat, oats, barley and rye. It is estimated that celiac disease affects 20% of Americans. This digestive disease causes damage to the mucous lining of the intestine whenever food products are consumed that contain gluten. Celiac disease impairs the body’s ability to absorb nutrients, which can cause serious problems because of the loss of vitamins and minerals, resulting in malnutrition. Diarrhea makes the problem even worse. Because of inadequate absorption, food allergies may appear. Celiac disease or celiac sprue often develops in childhood and may be inherited. It may also appear in adults in their thirties and forties. Emotional stress, surgery, a viral infection or trauma may trigger the onset of this disease.
Celiac disease affects both adults and children, and can appear at any age. The first signs of this disease are usually weight-loss, diarrhea, and anemia. Other symptoms may include foul-smelling stools, fatigue, poor appetite, gas, swelling of abdominal area, irritability, cramping sensation, and even vomiting. There may also be a rash on the skin and intense itching. Wheat products have a high potential for allergies, and range from mild to severe. Because the symptoms can be associated with irritable bowel syndrome or spastic colon, it’s difficult to diagnose as gluten intolerance.
It’s very important to read labels when purchasing food, drugs, or vitamins, and checking for binders, fillers and natural flavorings. There may be hidden sources of gluten, such as hydrolyzed vegetable protein, textured vegetable protein and hydrolyzed plant protein (all derivatives of wheat, rye, barley and oats), including some soy sources, modified food starch and malt. Some of the most common food sources that may cause allergies, must be omitted and replaced with millet, amaranth, quinoa, lentils, beans, peas, fruits such as raspberries, strawberries and blackberries. Corn and rice, can be eaten by most people who suffer from celiac disease. People with celiac disease need lots of fiber and foods that are rich in iron and B-vitamins. Eating cultures foods such as yogurt or kefir, adds friendly bacteria to the digestive tract that may heal sensitive intestines. In some cases, it may be necessary to omit milk products from the diet because of a lactose deficiency, except for yogurt. Rice Dream or Soy Milk may be used instead.