When it comes to digesting food, the human body is like a well oiled machine. Through a complex process food is broken up, the necessary nutrients are absorbed, and the waste products are excreted. A disruption in any part of this process can lead to deficiencies, diseases, or even death.
Celiac disease is also known as celiac sprue, non-tropical sprue, and gluten-sensitive enteropathy.
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. When you have celiac disease your body reacts to gluten as if it were toxic. This reaction occurs in the small intestine and ends up damaging the mucosal surface (the inner lining of the small intestine). When the mucosal surface is damaged the small intestine is not able to absorb nutrients properly. These nutrients include vitamins, calcium, carbohydrates, protein, and fats.
The symptoms of Celiac disease include gas, recurring stomach pain and bloating, diarrhea, constipation, weight loss/weight gain, fatigue, change in mood, pale, foul-smelling, or fatty stools, bone or joint pain, unexplained anemia, very itchy skin rash with blisters called dermatitis herpetiformis, muscle cramps, tingling numbness in the legs, pale sores in the mouth, called aphthous ulcers, osteoporosis, tooth discoloration or loss of enamel, failure to thrive in infants and delayed growth.
DIETARY MANAGEMENT OF CELIAC SPRUE:
Omitting gluten from the diet is the key to controlling celiac disease. In patients with celiac disease, strict dietary gluten elimination will heal the small intestine over time (weeks to months). It is imperative that your diet remains gluten-free. Any gluten in your diet will cause the damage to your intestine to reoccur. Wheat, rye, barley and their products in any form should be strictly avoided. Products may range from simple flour to soup mixes, breads, breakfast cereals, health drinks, candies, cereal bars, alcoholic beverages, cosmetics or even toothpastes.
Cross-contamination is a potential problem in other areas that needs to be monitored. Whenever products containing gluten touch a bowl, utensil, or cutting board there is a risk of it getting into the gluten-free food. Other possibilities for cross-contamination are:
- Toaster/toaster oven – use a separate toaster
- Crumbs being left in jams, butter, condiments – use squeeze containers
- Storage – make a separate space in cabinets and refrigerator
- Double dipping – make sure that no one sticks utensils or food in gluten-free foods