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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Celiac disease and the gluten-free diet

As many as 1 in 141 Americans cannot eat foods containing wheat, barley, rye and some types of oats because they suffer from celiac disease

When they eat these foods, it triggers a response in the small intestine that blocks the absorption of nutrients found in food. This can lead to weight loss, bloating and sometimes diarrhea. The Mayo Clinic suggests that you consult a doctor if diarrhea or digestive discomfort  lasts for more than two weeks. Eventually, the brain, nervous system, bones, liver and other organs can be deprived of nourishment.

Celiac (pronounced SEE-lee-ack) disease is an autoimmune disease and an inherited disorder that affects children and adults. It is also known as celiac sprue or gluten-sensitive enteropathy.

People will celiac disease can still enjoy bread and pasta, but they need to look for items that are made from other types of flour, like potato, rice, corn or soy. In August, the federal Food and Drug Administration wrote a definition of "gluten-free." The new standard should make it easier to find safe, gluten-free foods. While it welcomed FDA's move, Celiac Sprue Association says its own requirements for "gluten-free" labeling are more stringent. 

There's no cure for celiac disease, but following a strict gluten-free diet can help manage symptoms and promote intestinal healing. The association says "the diet is the prescription." A booklet available on its website guides readers through supermarket aisles, restaurant menus and other places where gluten might appear. You can find helpful information at Celiac Central.

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