November 2014
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Can Celiac Disease Be Avoided?

Celiac disease is one that has really commanded more attention over the last decade. As gluten free diets have become somewhat of a fad for people who do not even suffer from celiac disease, it has some wondering if there is any way that developing the disease can be avoided, or whether it’s truly just a genetic crapshoot on whether you get the disease or not.

The answer may be a bit of both, but there are identifiable genetic traits that make some people more susceptible to celiac disease.  Let’s first talk about what celiacs is.  It is a condition where the small intestine has a reaction to the consumption of anything with gluten (which is unfortunately a great many products these days).

The small intestine is extremely important to the human body as it is the place where most of the nutrition is absorbed from the food we eat. Without this absorption we would literally die of malnutrition.

When a person with celiac disease consumes any foods with gluten in it, small absorbent “fingers” called villi, which line the small intestine get destroyed and this ability to absorb nutrients is hindered more and more.

People are put on a gluten free diet, which can actually be extremely challenging to deal with since so many of the foods we eat contain gluten in some form. Many canned foods, soups, ice creams, boxed foods, and any other processed food today pretty much contains the ingredient.

If you want to eat out in a restaurant, you pretty much are relegated to eating only the salads on the menu, and even at that you have to watch what ingredients they put on the salad.  Even marinades that coat meats can contain gluten, so it is a very pervasive ingredient and very difficult to avoid.

There are more gluten free foods than ever being offered today though at least, in the special gluten free section of the grocery store, or at health food stores.  You just have to eat at home a whole lot more than usual because making the food yourself may be the only definite guarantee that you are avoiding the ingredient.

So far reasearch has not yielded any information on whether celiac disease can be avoided by changes in lifestyle or diet.  This is unfortunate, because it means that if you have a family member with the disease, you are more likely to develop it and since there is no known way to avoid it, your hands are really tied.

Symptoms of celiac diease are varied, so it can often be difficult to pinpoint for healthcare professionals.  It can be marked by fatigue, weight loss, depression, hair loss and a variety of other symptoms that are the hallmark of malnutrition, but these can vary from person to person.

 

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