Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that affects the small intestine and a body’s ability to absorb nutrients.
The Celiac Disease Foundation estimates that 1 in 100 people have celiac disease, about 1 percent of the U.S. population, although many experts believe the rate to be more like three percent of the U.S. population.
Whenever someone with celiac disease ingests gluten (a protein found in wheat, barley, rye and spelt), the immune system begins to attack the small intestine. The wide-spread damage to the small intestine prevents the body from proper absorption of nutrients. Many people with celiac disease are often malnourished or may suffer from anemia or other vitamin deficiencies.
Is There a Cure for Celiac Disease?
There is no cure for celiac disease there are some promising treatment options on the horizon. The only way to “manage” celiac disease is via 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, etc. – and worse, it can be a catalyst for things like intestinal cancers, diabetes, dementia and more.
From a holistic perspective, I believe there is more to healing from celiac disease than just swapping gluten-free pizza for regular pizza.
What is Gluten?
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, rye and spelt. Gluten helps foods hold its shape and is often an essential ingredient in bread and many types of doughy foods.
Unfortunately in today’s highly processed food world, gluten is hard to avoid. The best way to avoid it, however, is to cook for yourself using whole and fresh ingredients and avoiding processed foods altogether.
- Wheat is commonly found in breads, baked goods, soups, dressings, pastas, sauces, soy sauce, oats (unless marked gluten-free oats), etc.
- Barley is often found in malt, food coloring, soups, malt vinegar and beers. Even Rice Krispies uses malt to coat its rice bits.
- Rye is found in rye bread or pumpernickel bread, rye beer and some cereals.
Gluten is hidden in many medications, packaged foods, and other sources – celiacs must read labels carefully to avoid gluten at all costs and avoid cross contamination. I encourage people living with celiac disease to invest in a Nima Sensor to test their food for gluten before eating it.
Can’t You Eat Just a Little Gluten?
No, you can’t. Even a breadcrumb from a shared cutting board can trigger an autoimmune response in people with celiac disease.
People with celiac disease must avoid gluten at all costs and be extremely cautious about cross-contamination.
What Can Celiacs Eat?
While being gluten-free sounds restrictive, it’s really not. We can eat so many things, including:
- Fresh fruits and vegetables
- Dairy products
- Oats (certified GF)
- and more!
There are so many naturally gluten-free foods to choose from!
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