Celiac disease is a lifelong, inflammatory digestive disorder that occurs in reaction to gluten. In celiac disease, the lining of the small intestine is damaged by the body’s own immune system after consuming gluten containing food, protein found in wheat, rye, barley, triticale many foods made with these grains, leading to malabsorption and malnutrition.
According to studies done by many international health agencies, there are more than 8000 people in Kuwait suffering from celiac disease and the numbers are still increasing.
Although the real cause of celiac disease in not clearly known. The risk factors associated with the disease are family history of celiac disease, infants eating gluten containing cereals before 3 months of age, emotional stress, pregnancy or surgery and people suffering from type 1 diabetes and thyroid disease or other autoimmune disorder.
Symptoms of Celiac disease:
Symptoms may appear any time from infancy to adulthood, but the peak in diagnosis occurs between ages 40 to 60. The symptoms include diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss, anemia (due to iron malabsorption), osteoporosis (due to calcium and vitamin D malabsorption) and abnormal bleeding (malabsorption of vitamin K).
Medical Nutrition Therapy:
Celiac disease is normally considered chronic and requires lifelong omission of gluten from diet. The diet requires a major life change because of the drastic change from traditional grains in the diet. A truly gluten-free diet requires careful reading of the labels of all bakery and packaged foods, since gluten containing grains are not only used as a primary ingredient but may also be added during processing or preparation.
In the gluten-free diet, wheat, rye and barley, bulgur, semolina and triticale are excluded, and should be substituted with corn, rice and soybean. Therefore, the only way to manage (not cure) this disease is to switch to a gluten free diet, keeping in mind that it is a lifetime change.