Symptoms of celiac disease and how to go gluten-free

As many as 1 in 133 Americans may have celiac disease and an estimated 2 million people remain unaware that they are affected by it.  

Celiac disease relates to gluten, a protein compound found in most grains, breads, and cereals. Contrary to popular belief, celiac disease is not an allergy to wheat but a genetic autoimmune disorder that causes the body to attack itself when gluten is ingested.  Chicago Healers Practitioner Dr. Ian Wahl, DAc, LAc, says celiac disease is difficult to diagnose without an accurate blood test and many people are misdiagnosed because it presents as such a wide range of seemingly common symptoms, which include:

Short term:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Bloating after gluten ingestion
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation

Long term:

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Anemia
  • Osteoporosis
  • Chronic weight loss

Although there is no cure for celiac disease, sticking to a gluten-free diet will make life much better for those diagnosed.  Most supermarkets carry gluten-free products as do specialty stores, online stores and most restaurants.   Dr. Wahl provides these tips for going gluten-free:

  • When baking, there are great substitutes for wheat flour now available. They contain a combination of rice flour, tapioca starch and potato starch, which can be substituted 1:1 for wheat flour in many recipes.
  • In order to accommodate those living with celiac disease, many restaurants now offer gluten-free menu options. However, when eating out, always inform the server that you are on a gluten-free diet when once seated. Ask to speak to the manager and go over menu choices and preparation before ordering. The manager will alert the kitchen staff and chef to insure that your food is prepared safely.
  • When traveling, staying in a residence-type hotel with a kitchenette makes it easier to follow a gluten-free diet.
  • Parties can be managed quite well by calling ahead and speaking with the host or hostess. This will enable you to determine the planned menu and bring a dish that is gluten-free.
  • Wahl recommends these Internet sites for more information:

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