When people talk about feeling better after cutting out gluten there are one of two reactions.

  1. Good for you for finding out and how do I learn more because I would also like to feel better.
  2. Oh great, another person who jumped on the gluten free band wagon.

Either way that person feels better. The questions is do they have an issue like celiac disease of something else?

Differences Between Celiac Disease, Wheat Allergy & Gluten Intolerance

Photo by Louise LyshøjCeliac disease is an autoimmune disorder. It affects the small intestine and the body’s ability to absorb nutrients. Whenever someone with Celiac disease ingests gluten, their immune system starts to attack the small intestine. This damage prevents proper absorption of nutrients leading these people to suffer from anemia or other vitamin deficiencies. Eventually, the symptoms spread throughout the body and cause someone to feel more fatigued and awful. Celiac disease is hereditary, meaning that it runs in families. The Celiac Disease Foundation estimates that 1 in 100 people are affected worldwide. People with Celiac disease cannot eat gluten.

Wheat allergies are like all other allergies. When these people ingest wheat, their bodies react via IgE response (e.g. hives, anaphylactic shock, nausea, abdominal pain, or itching and swelling of lips, tongue, or throat). People with wheat allergies cannot eat wheat.

Gluten sensitivity is a non-autoimmune response to gluten. This means that your body will not attack itself, but if unmanaged over time symptoms will arise. People with gluten sensitivities cannot eat gluten.

What is Gluten

The always constant question and a very simple answer. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. Gluten is strong and helps foods to hold their shape. It is often an essential ingredient in bread and many other types of foods due to it’s thickening properties. Unfortunately, in today’s highly processed food world, gluten is hard to avoid. Gluten is hidden in many medications, packaged foods, and other sources. The best way to avoid it, however, is to cook for yourself using fresh ingredients and avoid processed foods as much as possible. Our Virtual Nutrition Therapy services can help you build a true gluten free diet using factual information instead of guessing at the problem (see our options at the bottom of this post).

When Should I Get Tested for Celiac Disease

  • Are you are experiencing symptoms of celiac disease?Photo by Hush Naidoo
    Fatigue, bone/joint pain, arthritis, depression/anxiety, migraines, missed periods/infertility, fatty liver, unexplained anemia
  • Do you have relatives with celiac disease?
    If you are the parent, sibling, or child of someone who has Celiac disease your risk jumps to 1:10.
  • If you have an associated autoimmune disorder or other condition.
    Type 1 diabetes, autoimmune thyroid or liver disease, Down Syndrome, Turner Syndrome, Williams Syndrome, and selective IgA deficiency

Is There a Cure?

Unfortunately, there is no cure for Celiac disease. The only way to manage the disease and related symptoms is to adhere to a strict gluten-free diet. If not managed properly, celiac disease can develop into other autoimmune diseases such as Type I diabetes, multiple sclerosis, anemia, osteoporosis, it can even be a catalyst for things like intestinal cancers. It is also important to remember that you can develop celiac disease at any point in your life. Just because you didn’t have it as a kid does not mean you can’t get it as an adult.

What can People with Celiac Disease Eat?

People with celiac disease have so many options that while being gluten-free does sound restrictive, it’s really not! You can eat things like meats, fresh fruits and vegetables, rice, quinoa, fish, dairy products, beans, nuts, corn, potatoes and more! If coming up with your own recipes is difficult, or even scary, we have solutions for you to choose from below. 

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