According to a new report in Gastroenterology (July 09), Celiac Disease is now 4 times more common in the US than it was during the 1950’s. The disease results from an intolerance to the protein gluten, found in wheat, barley, and rye. When celiac patients consume gluten, they suffer an inflammatory reaction within the small intestine that can lead to a host of manifestations, including abdominal pain, diarrhea, weight loss, anemia, infertility, malnutrition, and premature osteoporosis. It can develop at any age and is frequently misdiagnosed or undiagnosed because of its non-specific symptoms.
Based on this new evaluation, about 1 in 100 people have it and many are not aware. Anyone with chronic gastrointestinal complaints or any of the features listed above, should be screened for this disease. A simple blood test can determine the diagnosis in most cases. Treatment entails lifelong adherence to a gluten-free diet.
The “silver lining” for folks diagnosed with Celiac disease is that it largely and forever commits them to a wholesome, natural, “real foods” diet, as most processed, man-made foods contain gluten.