Some facts about celiac sprue and gluten intolerance

Published on Sunday, September 18, 2011

Celiac disease — also called celiac sprue and gluten intolerance —requires our awareness. Here are some facts about celiac and gluten in particular:
Celiac disease ...
is not a wheat allergy. It is an intolerance to gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley;• is an autoimmune disease where gluten triggers the body’s immune system to attack the lining of the small intestine and destroys “villi” — the areas that normally absorb nutrients;• can cause severe nutrition deficiencies, including iron, folate, calcium and vitamins A, D, E and K;• has been estimated to affect 1 in 133 people in the United States. Most who have celiac don’t know it;• is more common in people with other autoimmune disorders, such as type 1 diabetes;• is 2 to 3 times more common in women than in men;• is less common in individuals who were breastfed as babies and were not fed gluten-containing foods before the age of 4 months;• is not always easy to diagnose. Common symptoms include stomach pain, bloating, diarrhea, constipation and poor appetite;• is best diagnosed with a biopsy of the small intestine. Blood tests are also being refined to identify celiac; and• is effectively treated with a gluten-free diet for life.
Gluten ...
is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley;• is not found in oats. However, if oats are processed alongside wheat products, they may be “contaminated” with gluten;• is found in spelt, triticale (grain that is a cross between wheat and rye) and couscous;• is not found in flax, quinoa, potato, rice or corn;• is not found in pure fruit and vegetable juices or fresh fruit (although some wax coatings may contain gluten);• is not found naturally in artichokes or other fresh vegetables;• is not naturally present in milk, eggs, nuts, unprocessed meat, poultry, fish or eggs;• can be present in barley-brewed beer;• is not normally present in wine; and may still be present in “wheat-free” foods if they contain rye or barley.
is in the process of being defined by the United States Food and Drug Administration for use on food labels;• products are becoming more common in food markets. Kellogg’s Rice Krispies, for example, will soon be introducing a gluten-free option. (Regular Rice Krispies is made with barley malt flavoring which contains gluten.).Medical nutrition therapy ...• is the only effective treatment for celiac disease; and• can be made less confusing with the help of nutrition professional.
Source: Barbara Quinn is a registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator and certified health and wellness coach at the Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula. 


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