What is Celiac Disease?

Celiac Disease is the exacerbation of the body’s intolerance to the protein, gluten, which is found in wheat, rye, and barley. The disease is known as an autoimmune disorder because the body’s immune system reacts to gluten by damaging the lining of the small intestine, which leads to the malabsorption of nutrients. In the U.S., about 1 in 133 adults are affected by Celiac Disease, the cause of which is still unknown in the medical profession.

There is a broad spectrum of this disease, meaning the severity of the symptoms varies from person to person. In general, the symptoms of Celiac Disease include:

  • Abdominal pain, bloating, gas, or indigestion
  • Constipation
  • Decreased appetite (may also be increased or unchanged)
  • Diarrhea, either constant or off and on
  • Lactose intolerance (common when the person is diagnosed, usually goes away after treatment)
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stools that float, are foul smelling, bloody, or “fatty”
  • Unexplained weight loss (although people can be overweight or of normal weight)

Because the intestines do not absorb many important vitamins, minerals, and other parts of food, the following symptoms may start over time:

  • Bruising easily
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Growth delay in children
  • Hair loss
  • Itchy skin (dermatitis herpetiformis) or eczema
  • Missed menstrual periods
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Muscle cramps and joint pain
  • Nosebleeds
  • Seizures
  • Tingling or numbness in the hands or feet
  • Unexplained short height

Diagnosis of Celiac Disease

  • Your doctor can test for certain antibodies in your blood called endomysial (EMA-IgA) and anti-tissue transglutaminase (tTG – IgA and IgG) antibodies. High levels of these antibodies can indicate Celiac Disease.
  • Small intestine endoscopy, medically known as esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD).

Gluten-Free Diet

After a person is diagnosed with Celiac Disease, lifelong diet and lifestyle change can help relieve their symptoms. A gluten-free diet requires eliminating all sources of gluten (which is in wheat, rye, and barley).

However, there are still many other grains that do not contain gluten and thus can be included in the diet. These are:

  • Rice
  • Corn
  • Amaranth
  • Quinoa
  • Teff (or Tef)
  • Millet
  • Finger Millet (Ragi)
  • Sorghum
  • Indian Rice Grass (Montina)
  • Arrowroot
  • Buckwheat
  • Flax
  • Job’s Tears
  • Sago
  • Potato
  • Soy
  • Legumes
  • Mesquite
  • Tapioca
  • Wild rice
  • Cassava (Manioc)
  • Yucca
  • Nuts
  • Seeds

Example 1-Day Meal Plan of a Gluten-Free Diet

Breakfast Egg omelet made with low-fat natural cheese, such as cheddar or Monterey jack, and fresh vegetables
Rice cake (check the ingredient list to make sure it is gluten-free) topped with jam, jelly, or preserves
Orange juice
Lunch   Black bean tacos made with corn tortillas, black beans, fresh vegetables, low-fat natural cheese, and topped with fruit salsa (diced tropical fruit, lime juice, cilantro)
Seltzer water with lime
Evening Meal Chicken and fresh vegetables stir-fried in oil and spices
Plain brown rice or plain enriched white rice
Sorbet topped with fresh fruit
Cranberry juice mixed with seltzer water
Snack All natural yogurt mixed with blueberries or another fruit

Approximate Nutrition Analysis

Calories: 1,615
Protein: 67g (17% of calories)
Carbohydrate: 272g (68% of calories)
Fat: 26g (15% of calories)
Cholesterol: 273mg
Sodium: 2,890mg
Fiber: 21g


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