Celiac disease, also known as gluten intolerance, affects at least 1 in 133 Americans. Celiac disease is a digestive condition that is triggered by eating foods that contain gluten. Foods that primarily contain gluten are bread, pasta, cookies and other foods that contain wheat, barley or rye. People who have celiac disease have an immune reaction in their small intestines when they eat foods containing gluten. The immune reaction causes damage to the inner surface of the small intestine and an inability to absorb certain nutrients from foods.
Those who have celiac disease can experience symptoms of abdominal pain and diarrhea. Celiac disease can mimic the symptoms you would have with other gastrointestinal conditions, such as anemia, parasite infection, Crohn’s disease, gastric ulcer or irritable bowel syndrome. Some people with celiac disease do not have any symptoms at all.
There is no cure for celiac disease. Those with celiac disease can effectively manage the disease through diet change. To manage the disease and prevent complications, it is important to avoid all foods that contain gluten, including:
• Graham flour
• Spelt (a form of wheat)
If you have further questions about celiac disease and a gluten-free doctor, talk to your gastroenterologist. They can talk to you about diagnosing the disease and how to be successful at following a gluten-free diet. You gastroenterologist may refer you a dietician, who can educate you on gluten-free diets and help you plan a healthy gluten-free diet.
Once you have are adhering to a gluten-free diet, the inflammation in your small intestine will begin to decrease, usually within several weeks. You may start to notice an improvement in your symptoms within a few days of following a gluten free-diet.