According to the Celiac Disease Foundation (CDF), celiac disease (CD), also known as sprue, celiac sprue or gluten sensitive enteropathy (GSE), affects one in 133 Americans. Anyone diagnosed with this condition is unable to properly digest gluten, which is a protein found in certain grains.
On the June 19 episode of "The Dr. Oz Show," Dr. Mehmet Oz welcomed television personality Elisabeth Hasselbeck to discuss her nearly 10-year journey to being diagnosed with celiac disease. Hasselbeck explained the common symptoms she was finally able to link together with the help of a physician.
Here's what you need to know about celiac disease to help you determine if you need to speak with your doctor or better manage your condition if you've been diagnosed.
What is celiac disease?
First of all, there is a difference between having an allergy to gluten and having celiac disease, which is an autoimmune disease. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, celiac disease is defined as a condition that damages the lining of the small intestine, which is covered in fingerlike parts called villi. The villi are responsible for absorbing nutrients from the foods we eat. As a response to gluten being ingested, the immune system goes after the villi, destroying them, resulting in malnutrition regardless of diet. Commons symptoms of gluten intolerance include bloating, fatigue, frequent headaches or migraines, weight gain, hyperthyroidism, osteoporosis and anemia (iron deficiency).
If you're any experiencing any of these symptoms and have previously not been able to find a reason, talk with your doctor about them and about possibly being tested for celiac disease. Anyone diagnosed with celiac disease is also more susceptible to certain cancers and other autoimmune disorders. While women are more often diagnosed with celiac disease than men, this condition can develop at any stage of life.
Planning Your Diet
When you have celiac disease, the main foods to avoid are wheat (spelt, semolina, einkorn, durum, graham and kamut), barley and rye. According to the CDF, pure, uncontaminated oats can be eaten and are tolerated well by most patients with CD. However, you should speak with your physician before adding them to your diet, as their connection is still being studied. Be especially careful with processed foods. Dr. Oz and Hasselbeck even mentioned certain beauty products that contain these ingredients. Words to look out for include "oat derived," "tocopherols" and amino peptide complex.
Being diagnosed with this condition doesn't mean a boring or limited diet. Grains like quinoa, millet, buckwheat and amaranth make great substitutes, but the word to remember is "fresh" when it comes to everything else. Fruits, vegetables and meats in their fresh form contain no gluten. Food manufacturers are now commonly making gluten-free versions of their items and some companies only produce gluten-free products, so you don't have to miss out on your favorite cereal or salad dressing. These products are typically marked as such, but check the label for ingredients like wheat and barley if you're unsure.
Supplements are available to help individuals with difficulty digesting gluten. Common ingredients include plant enzymes like amylase, lipase, phytase, lactase, cellulase and sucrase. These enzymes help your body better break down the gluten for proper digestion to prevent symptoms. Probiotics are also useful in aiding digestion and can help boost the immune system for anyone with a gluten-free diet. These products aren't, however, intended to be a cure or a substitute for following a proper diet. Speak with your doctor before adding them to your supplement regimen.
The CDF has two main rules to remember when shopping: 1. Wheat-free is not gluten-free and 2. When in doubt, go without. You can also talk with the manufacturer of any products you're unsure of. Following these guidelines and working with your doctor can help you get the most our of your gluten-free diet!
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Finding The Best Diet For Your Digestion What we eat impacts our daily life a lot more than we like to think about. If you're uncomfortable with your trips to the bathroom, it's time to change your diet and we have the information you'll need to do it right.
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