One in 133 people are affected with celiac disease, an autoimmune digestive disease. For people with celiac disease, or gluten sensitive enteropathy, eating foods with gluten - a protein found in wheat, rye and barley - damages the intestinal lining. Once damaged, the intestine cannot absorb the many nutrients supplied by food. The risk of malnutrition in people who have celiac disease is high.
The symptoms some with celiac disease, or gluten sensitive enteropathy, may experience include weakness, abdominal cramping, lack of appetitite, or diarrhea. Celiac disease may be inherited or triggered by an event. The care and treatment for people with this disease is very individual and includes eating a gluten-free diet and working with a registered dietitian and physician to find the best solutions for living life to the fullest.
More and more gluten-free breads, baked goods, coatings, and other products are available in mainstream grocery stores as well as specialty stores. There are also support groups available online and at some Maine hospitals.
Some people are “gluten sensitive” but don’t have celiac disease. These individuals experience milder and more subtle symptoms and do not test positive for celiac disease. These individuals may also benefit from eating a well-balanced low gluten diet and working on a personal plan with their registered dietitian and physician to live their life to the fullest.
To learn more, contact your local hospital or go to http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/celiac/ for more information.