What is Celiac Disease?

Many grocery stores and restaurants have begun offering gluten-free choices in recent years, and it has been due to many studies coming out on the matter. With so many reviews coming out, what’s real and what’s not becomes a little confusing. What’s without a doubt, however, is that gluten (a protein) can cause allergic reactions in many people, and that’s why there’s an increasing demand for gluten-free food.

Celiac disease is a genetic disorder which causes an adverse reaction to ingesting gluten. Symptoms are primarily felt in the gastrointestinal area and may include cramping, diarrhea, and constipation. Symptoms are not limited to just the stomach area, however. Over 200 symptoms have been reported, including bone and joint pain, headaches, fatigue, rashes, and behavioral changes. Some reports are far more severe, with reactions that include stunted growth and infertility in rare cases.

Seeing as celiac disease is genetically inherited, family members and relatives are very likely to have it. Although it is rare, and only about 1% of the population is prone to having it, just a mere 17% of those who are likely to get celiac disease have been diagnosed. There is no real treatment or cure for celiac disease; the only solution is to maintain a gluten-free diet. Although research is continually being conducted in search of a cure, treatment, or medication, there is still no better solution in the present day than avoiding gluten in one’s diet.

Gluten sensitive or non-celiac wheat sensitivity is a very similar issue which is a little more confusing. It is not an autoimmune reaction like celiac disease, and there are no real tests or tell-tale signs that can help identify it. The only real way to figure out if one is gluten sensitive is the same as with celiac disease; cut out gluten and see the results. If there is an improvement by stopping ingestion of all gluten, then you can safely assume you have a gluten sensitivity. Cutting gluten is the only treatment for someone with celiac disease.

It’s not easy to tell if one has celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. The symptoms can be very unnoticeable to one who is unaware of gluten’s possible effects. In some cases where it’s more severe, the disease might be more apparent, otherwise, it can go undetected. It can often be chalked up to indigestion, overeating, or one of many other issues. The best way to find out if you have celiac disease is to speak to a healthcare professional. Your doctor is the best person to help you get a diagnosis and find out whether or not you have celiac disease. For those with celiac disease, there are many cookbooks and recipes available that can help with your symptom flare-ups. Wheat substitutes can be just as enjoyable as the “real thing,” and most find they can enjoy the same flavors as those who are allowed wheat in their diet.