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Celiac Disease – The Ultimate Gluten Free Experience

Celiac Disease is one of the most common, undiagnosed genetic disorders with an estimated 1 in 133 people, or 2 million people, afflicted with the disease in the United States alone (figures cited from here and here).Β  Persons of Irish, English, and other Anglo backgrounds tend to be more prone to the disease than those of other ethnic backgrounds.

This disease is not a food allergy, but an auto-immune disorder that people do not grow out of over time.Β  The results of this disorder vary widely by individual, and can range from mild to severe, even requiring hospitalization.

Luckily the exposure to this condition has increased greatly in recent years, and doctors are more likely to acknowledge Celiac Disease as a possibility when confronted with a patient showing unusual symptoms.Β  In the past, sufferers of Celiac have been misdiagnosed as having everything from Irritable Bowel Syndrome, thyroid conditions, fibromyalgia, or worst of all, simply as hypochondriacs.Β  I’ve been to Celiac Disease support groups and listened to people in the their 60’s who were misdiagnosed for decades, told by doctors that it was “all in their head” and they simply accepted their poor quality of life as fact.

As proper diagnosis of Celiac Disease has increased over the last several years, so have the dietary options for sufferers.Β  Better labeling of ingredients in food products and increasing numbers of gluten free products and gluten free food manufacturers have give Celiac sufferers more choices in the grocery store.

Even large restaurant chains have recognized the potential market in offering gluten free menu options.Β  PF Chang’s, Outback Steakhouse, Chili’s, and On The Border all now have dedicated gluten free menus.Β  These might not be the best restaurants for those of us oriented towards local, organic fare, but some recognition ought to be given since they have made an effort to helping those suffering from gluten intolerance.

There are also some terrific support groups and sources of information online , including The Celiac Disease Foundation, Celiac.com, The Mayo Clinic, and The Gluten Intolerance Group.Β  Each has tons of information about the disease and how to cope if you or a loved one has been diagnosed.

You can find some great gluten free recipes here at Eat. Drink. Better. – including Gluten Free Chocolate Cake and Gluten Free Whole Gran Bread.

Photo credit: dobrych on Wikipedia under a Creative Commons License.

6 comments
  1. Vanessa

    I think it’s also important to note that there have been incredible new developments in testing for celiac disease, which has really led to growth in diagnosis. Have you heard about the two new tests? Prometheus Labs just launched a new genetic test that can be used at home and 2G Pharma released the Biocard finger prick test, which will tell you if you have the antibodies related to celiac disease. You can take the Biocard test at home by pricking your finger and get results in 10 minutes.

  2. Laurie Ficken

    After having misdiagnosed colon problems all of my life, my daughter, who is a med student, started learning about celiac disease. The things I’ve been learning from reading the material have been AMAZING! I’ve always wondered why my IBS didn’t act like the doctors said it should. Yes, I had just come to accept that I was on my own with this issue and that it was just a fact of my life. Can anyone without the disease completely comprehend how horrible it is to live with when you don’t even know what causes it? I’m starting a 3-week gluten-free diet to see how it alters my physical health. Can’t wait to try these products!

  3. Marlene Stein

    Well, for me all those years I had the diagnosis, I still had Celiac symptoms. Granted, there was some relief but not total relief until something occurred to me just a while ago. While I gave up crackers and cereals, I still had problems. I finally put two and two together. What crackers and cereals and a lot of other foods have in common is annatto. While off all gluten and still having diarrhea, etc., I was eating cheddar cheese, commercial salad dressings and vanilla ice creams. No gluten there. What they all have in common is annatto. So, I submit that I don’t have a gluten problem as I am eating it to my heart’s content now, it is the annatto that was in the gluten products that was my “trigger food”. Did it get worse with age? You bet it did. I am 67 and with all that annatto upon annatto, it worsened. Today, annatto free, I am asymptomatic and have a new life. It is never too late to feel well.

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