Celiac Disease

CeliacCeliac disease is a gluten-sensitive digestive disorder that is caused by intolerance to the protein, gliadin, which is found in gluten- a component of wheat that gives flour its smooth, elastic form. Other grains, like barely, rye, bulgur, and matzo meal contain the gliadin protein.

People who are sensitive to the gliadin protein experience an immune response if a food with that protein is consumed. This immune response damages the lining of the small intestine and can cause symptoms such as diarrhea, flatulence, bloating, and vitamin deficiency.

This disease can start at any age. Often the first signs of this disease appear during infancy or early childhood. In many instances, these first signs are often mild or nonexistent and are easily overlooked and undiagnosed until adulthood. This disease may also manifest in some people following infection, injury, pregnancy, surgery, or severe psychological stress.

The best way to relieve any symptoms associated with this disease is to completely cut gluten out of the diet. A registered dietician is a useful source of information concerning which foods are acceptable or unacceptable for a gluten-free diet. Most grains should be avoided and even foods such as soy sauce, modified food starch and vegetable protein are sources of gluten.

Safe foods that gluten sensitive people can eat include rice, soybean, potato and corn flours, plain meats, fruits, vegetables and most dairy products. However, many people who have this disease are lactose intolerant.

If you suspect that you may have Celiac disease, consult with your physician. You will likely have to take blood tests or stool samples. It is also possible that you will have to undergo a biopsy of the lining of the small intestine, which is taken during an endoscopic exam.