Gluten Free Quick Start Guide
What is Celiac Disease?
Celiac disease (CD) is a digestive disease that damages the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food. When people with celiac disease eat foods or use products containing gluten their immune system responds by damaging the small intestine. The tiny, fingerlike protrusion lining the small intestine are damaged or destroyed. Because the body’s own immune system causes the damage, celiac disease is considered an autoimmune disorder and can also be classified as a disease of malabsorption because nutrients are not absorbed. The exact cause of celiac disease is unknown. Some people live their lives symptom free, and sometimes the disease is triggered, or becomes active, for the first time after surgery, pregnancy, viral infection, or severe emotional stress.
How is Celiac Disease Diagnosed?
Celiac Disease is diagnosed through laboratory studies, endoscopy, and biopsy findings. Please note that if you are following a gluten free diet prior to getting the blood work and biopsies, you may get false negative results.
How is Celiac Disease Treated?
To manage the disease, you must avoid foods that contain gluten for the rest of your life. There is no “cure” for celiac disease, therefore a lifelong 100% elimination is the only way to achieve optimal health.
What is Gluten Intolerance?
It is a non-allergic and non-autoimmune digestive condition in which the consumption of gluten can lead to symptoms similar to those experienced in Celiac Disease or a wheat allergy. Most people have general complains of bloating, abdominal pain or diarrhea, as well as headaches, fatigue, and/or bone or joint pain.
What is Gluten?
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. It is the substance in flour that forms the “glue” that holds the product together. In someone with Celiac Disease damage can be done to the intestine, which can then lead to decreased absorption of essential nutrients. If left untreated, possible conditions can develop such as decreased bone density, iron deficiency anemia, unintentional weight loss, vitamin B12 and folate deficiency.
Where is Gluten Found?
The grains containing gluten include wheat, rye, barley and all their derivatives. These grains are used in items such as: pies, pasta, cereals, pizza, cakes, cookies, and breads.
Some medications and supplements may include sources of gluten. It is very important to discuss any medications your child is on with your pharmacist to ensure they are gluten free.