Celiac Disease

May is Celiac Awareness Month. The Mayo Clinic defines celiac disease as a digestive condition triggered by consumption of the protein gluten, which is primarily found in bread, pasta, cookies, pizza crust and many other foods containing wheat, barley or rye. When people with this disease eat foods containing gluten, the inner surface of their small intestine is damaged and creates an inability to absorb certain nutrients.

Celiac disease affects at least one in 133 Americans. Between 5 and 15% of  the children of a person with the disease also develop the condition.

Because of the broad range of symptoms, celiac can be difficult to diagnose. The symptoms can range from upset stomach and joint pain to chronic diarrhea, abdominal bloating and progressive weight loss. If a person with the disorder continues to eat gluten, studies have shown that he or she will increase their chances of gastrointestinal cancer by anywhere from 40 to 100 times that of the normal population. Eventually, the decreased absorption of nutrients (malabsorption) that occurs with celiac disease can cause vitamin deficiencies that deprive your brain, nervous system, bones, liver and other organs of vital nourishment.

There is no cure for celiac disease; however, you can manage it by changing your diet.  Being dedicated to eating a gluten-free diet will usually eliminate symptoms of the disease and help the small intestine to heal, while preventing long term damage and increasing your quality of life. Reading labels on foods and beverages will have to become your new normal.

Avoid food and beverages containing:

  • Barley
  • Bulgur
  • Durum
  • Graham flour
  • Rye
  • Semolina
  • Wheat

Avoid the following things unless they are labeled “gluten-free”:

  • Beers
  • Breads
  • Cakes and pies
  • Candies
  • Cereals
  • Cookies
  • Crackers
  • Pastas
  • Processed lunch meats
  • Salad dressings

These foods are gluten-free!

  • Fresh meats
  • Fruit
  • Many dairy products
  • Potatoes
  • Rice
  • Vegetables
  • Wine and distilled liquors, ciders and spirits

All of these lists came from the Mayo Clinic website.

Due to the increased awareness of celiac disease, there are so many resources available now -especially to learn about gluten-free foods and recipes. If you think you might have celiac, call your doctor today.

Online Resources: 

National Foundation for Celiac Awareness

Celiac Disease Foundation

Celiac Sprue Association


The author of this blog post is Divine Home Care Office Manager for our Little Falls office, Kayla Bellefeuille.