I continually receive questions about celiac disease and a gluten-free diet. Since celiac disease affects 1 in133 Americans, this is not surprising. In celiac disease, the body is “allergic” to the protein gluten and the lining of the intestinal walls become inflamed and irritated if gluten-containing foods are eaten.
Typical symptoms of untreated celiac disease:
- diarrhea, gas, bloating or constipation
- anemia from malabsorption of iron
- bone disease from malabsorption of calcium and vitamin D
- weight loss from loss of calories with chronic diarrhea
Dermatitis herpetiformis is when the skin has an allergic reaction to gluten. The skin becomes very itchy and develops blistering skin lesions, typically on the elbows, knees and shoulders.
The only treatment for celiac disease is a gluten-free diet. Those with celiac disease should avoid all forms of
- WHEAT (spelt, bran, wheat germ, durum, farina, semolina, graham flour)
- BARLEY (malt, malt syrup, malt extract)
Look for gluten-free products from Arrowhead Mills (www.arrowheadmills.com) and Bob’s Red Mill (www.bobsredmill.com).
Although those with celiac disease must avoid certain foods, there are many grains and starches that are still okay, such as rice, corn, legumes, millet, quinoa and potatoes. Also, many healthy foods are still okay to eat too: fruits and vegetables; dairy products (low fat milk, yogurt and cheese); nuts and seeds; eggs, fish, poultry and red meats; oils; and herbs and spices.