Hippocrates said "Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food". How right he was when it comes to Celiac Disease. I've learned this personally since being diagnosed with Celiac Disease 10 years ago. An auto-immune disease with genetic, environmental, and immunologic components, Celiac Disease involves an immune response to ingesting gluten (a protein found in many grains as well as processed foods). The result is atrophy of the villi in the small intestine, which are responsible for absorbing nutrients from foods, beverages and nutritional supplements. Celiac Disease is the only disease where nutrition is both the cause and the "cure". For 1 in 133, or an estimated 1.5 million Americans, “give us our daily bread” might as well be “give us our daily arsenic”. Not long ago, Celiac Disease, also known as “Celiac Sprue” was considered primarily a childhood disease. Today, however, the average age of diagnosis is between 45 and 55 years, with 25% of diagnoses in people 60 years and older.
The physical and psychological health consequences of Celiac Disease in late-diagnosed adult celiacs can include: anemia, osteoporosis, intestinal lymphomas and other cancers of the digestive system, pancreatic insufficiency, malnutrition, other autoimmune diseases, depression, infertility, and dental problems, including tooth enamel erosion and periodontal disease. Quite a daunting list and another reason why a correct and timely diagnosis is so critical.
Fortunately, some of these health consequences are reversible when the celiac patient adheres to a strict gluten-free diet. A nutritionist schooled in Celiac Disease can be very helpful in assisting newly-diagnosed celiacs in making this difficult dietary transformation.
If you’re a celiac traveling at home or abroad, be sure to visit CeliacTravel.com. It’s a great resource offering, among other things, restaurant cards with explanations of Celiac Disease and the need to avoid gluten in 43 languages.
Included in Be Well Coaching's
Nutrition for Celiac Disease package:
• Gluten-free menu planning
• Nutritional supplements to support Celiac Disease
• Gluten-free, healthy shopping list
• Living with Celiac Disease: healthy lifestyle coaching
Gluten is not only found in most whole grains and flours, its derivatives are now used as fillers in many commercially processed foods. Says Carolyn, "As a celiac and a nutritionist I advocate a mostly whole-foods, gluten-free diet. It’s actually one of the easiest and healthiest ways to ensure gluten-free compliance. When you eliminate most of the commercially processed, packaged foods from your diet, you don’t have to read labels to know whether something is gluten-free. Furthermore, just because a packaged food is labeled “gluten-free” doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good for you. A “gluten-free” candy bar is still a candy bar!"