Crash Course: Celiac Disease


You may have noticed your friends, co-workers or neighbors choosing gluten - free foods recently and wondered if you should be doing the same. While going gluten-free has become trendy for many, following a gluten - free diet is necessary for the management of a medical condition known as Celiac Disease. Read to learn more about the condition and nutrition recommendations for managing symptoms.

What is Celiac Disease?

Celiac disease is an immune reaction to gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. These immune reactions cause damage to the small intestine which prevent its ability to absorb nutrients as it should. Patients with this condition may experience a range of symptoms including diarrhea, bloating, abdominal pain, anemia, tingling or numbness, and even depression and irritability.

Celiac disease is different from a gluten sensitivity or allergy in that a person may have similar symptoms without long term damage to the small intestine. It’s estimated that 1 in 141 Americans have Celiac Disease. The condition is most often diagnosed in Caucasians, females, those with Type 1 Diabetes, Down syndrome, Addison’s disease, and in those who have a family member with the condition.

How Can I manage Celiac Disease?

Celiac disease symptoms are managed by following a strict gluten - free diet. Gluten is found in baked goods, pastas, breads and cereals made from wheat, barley, or rye. It may also be hidden in non-food items such as lipstick or lip balm, herbal supplements and over the counter medications, and toothpaste and mouth wash. To be safe, check ingredient lists and food labels for barley, wheat and rye and their variations every time you shop. Many stores are now carrying gluten-free versions of common items. Be sure to look for these items on your next shopping trip as well


Written by Angela Stancil MS, RD, LDN