Mind and Body: Celiac Disease Awareness Day is Friday

Published 9:17 am Thursday, September 12, 2019

Celiac Disease Awareness Day is Friday.

Celiac disease is known as an abnormal immune system response that damages the intestines.

Symptoms can vary widely from going unnoticed to impacting daily life. Such symptoms include, gas, abdominal swelling, bloating, abnormal stools or diarrhea, unwanted weight loss, fatigue, weakness and vomiting.

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These unwanted symptoms can be helped or alleviated with avoiding gluten foods. Gluten foods, containing wheat, rye and barley, are the culprit in causing such stomach distress.

Symptoms occur when someone with celiac disease eats gluten. Normally, villi line the large surface area of the small intestine. Villi are tiny fingerlike projections that help with the absorption of vitamins, sugars and other nutrients as food passes through the gastrointestinal tract.

When someone with celiac disease eats gluten, those villi flatten out, not allowing absorption of important nutrients. The intestinal lining becomes inflamed, and symptoms persist.

It is important for individuals with celiac disease to know what foods contain gluten. This also means scanning food items for hidden ingredients.

For example, malt is associated with barley, so beer would not be a good choice to consume. Hydrolyzed vegetable protein, which is often used by vegetarians, is known to have wheat as an ingredient.

When using frozen or canned foods, look for second ingredients that contain gluten, like breaded items from processed foods. For example, chicken patties, shrimp and fish could cause stomach discomfort.

Avoid other convenience type foods, like pastas, crackers, cakes, pies, and cookies, unless otherwise noted as gluten free.

If such foods are requested for special occasions, custom cakes, pies and cookies can be ordered. Some foods without gluten may still cause stomach discomfort.

For example, oatmeal does not contain gluten; however, it may increase abdominal pain, bloating and diarrhea due to increased fiber content.

As such, each person is different, so some gas producing foods may be tolerated when least expected.

It may be a good idea to keep an ongoing list of foods that do cause stomach discomfort.

Gluten free foods are popular alternatives for people with celiac disease. Gluten free products are usually made with rice or potato flour.

Instead of using breads, rice and potatoes should be used as fillers for meals.

On the snack side, use rice cakes, corn chips or popcorn. Use only corn or rice in cereals. Most major supermarket chains and specialty health food stores provide a variety of gluten free products.

Remember, the bottom line is to avoid wheat, rye and barley. Be aware of hidden ingredients in foods that are processed, and look for gluten free foods while grocery shopping. Always refer to medical experts for proper care and treatment.

Clark County Health Department provides programs for the entire family, including Freedom from Smoking, WIC, HANDS, family planning, well child care/immunizations and home health care. For more information, call 744-4482 or visit www.clarkhealthdept.org or the department’s Facebook page.

Information contained was retrieved from https://nationaltoday.com/national-celiac-disease-awareness-day.