Why Celiac Disease Should Not be Taken Lightly

A variety of gluten free bread

There’s a misconception that people with celiac disease are just picky eaters because they require all their meals and snacks to be “gluten-free”. What a lot of people don’t realize though is that this is a severe condition that can lead to debilitating side effects if left untreated or not given enough care.

Hereditary Disease

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that affects 1 in every 100 people all over the world. It’s a hereditary disease, and people who have relatives with celiac disease run a 1 in 10 risks of also developing it. To date, an estimated 1.5 million Americans with celiac disease go undiagnosed and make themselves prone to suffering long-term complications. These include loss of bone density, anemia and damage to the nervous system. Many years down the road, it can lead to the development of additional autoimmune diseases including diabetes and multiple sclerosis.

Management and Treatment

The main culprit is gluten, which is a protein that is found in wheat, barley, and rye among other grains. When gluten is introduced to their system, the body launches an immune response against the small intestine. This, in turn, damages the villi, which are small projections that line the small intestine. When the villi are damaged, the body is unable to absorb nutrients properly.

Since gluten is the main trigger, patients with celiac disease often seek help from dieticians and nutritionists and ask for an alternative meal plan. Adhering to a strict, gluten-free diet is difficult since wheat and barley are included in common food products like bread and other beverages. Even crumbs left over from a cutting board can trigger an autoimmune response and damage the intestines.

To keep the ill-effects at bay, it’s important to be vigilant and watchful whenever dining out. If unsure, it may be best to bring a packed lunch and only go to establishments which serve certified gluten-free fare.