May has been declared Celiac Disease Awareness Month by health authorities in the United States. Attention is drawn to this important disease under the leadership of certain institutions, especially in May. Many organizations and scientists provide information about celiac disease to make people aware of this condition. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 is a year for us all to understand and think about the importance of our health. In these uncertain times when we think about our health, we should also become aware of celiac disease.
What is Celiac Disease?
The small intestine is an important organ that ensures the absorption of nutrients in our body. Celiac disease is a serious autoimmune disease where the small intestine is damaged by gluten intake (a type of protein commonly found in grains such as wheat, rye, barley). Nutrients cannot be absorbed properly, as the absorption portions of the small intestine are damaged by gluten uptake.
Celiac disease is one of the most common autoimmune diseases in the world, with an overall prevalence of 0.5-1% of the population. The rate is the same in the USA, but in some countries such as Finland and Mexico, it can vary between 2-5%.
Celiac disease is of hereditary origin and the possibility of developing it increases if there is someone in the family with an autoimmune disease. If someone in the family has celiac disease, the probability of emergence in their first-degree relatives is 10-15%. Celiac disease is more common in women than in men. The condition has also seen a rise in risk for development in the last 10 years of almost 5 times.
The course of celiac disease is variable and there are many tests to diagnose the disease. The reliability of blood tests (IgA IgG, etc.) for the examination of some immune proteins in the body is still controversial. Apart from a blood test, intestinal/duodenum biopsy and genetic tests are other options. A physician experienced in celiac disease should draw a suitable road map for treatment.
There are 3 Types of Celiac Disease
The World Gastroenterology Organization states that there are 3 types of celiac disease. Many patients without symptoms have ‘silent celiac disease’. Silent celiac disease does not cause any small bowel damage. In patients with “minor celiac disease”, there are symptoms such as bloating, indigestion, and abdominal pain triggered by gluten intake. They also don’t have intestinal damage. Patients with ‘major celiac disease’ have more severe muscle spasms, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.
In the US, 21% of total celiac patients show no symptoms. 21 million people in America are sensitive to gluten and do not know it. Celiac Awareness Month is an important month for these people to notice themselves and improve their health and quality of life. Celiac Awareness Month is an important month to acknowledge and recognize the disease and encourage those who live with the disease to improve their health and quality of life.
If you think you have gluten sensitivity, or if someone in your family has autoimmune conditions, you may have the opportunity to clarify the situation with a small test at home.
Celiac disease is a chronic autoimmune disease, meaning that it requires lifelong attention. The most important and valid treatment method is to follow the gluten-free diet for a lifetime. A gluten-free diet prevents damage to intestinal surfaces and helps to improve the quality of life.
Diets of celiac patients are deficient in important nutrients such as fiber, iron, B vitamins, vitamin D, and zinc. A deficiency of B vitamins can trigger psychological problems such as anxiety and depression. Because of this, celiac patients should take gluten-free dietary supplements.
40% of celiac patients are not satisfied with their diets. Some of the alternative ways to heal celiac disease involve studies of regulating intestinal permeability with a gluten vaccine or bacterial mixture.
Living with Celiac Disease-Meeting Gluten
Over 10,000 years ago, our ancestors, who started to live a sedentary life, met agriculture, introducing gluten to the human diet with cereals. Gluten is one of the few digestion-resistant proteins, and it is not surprising that this nutrient, which is considered to be new to us, causes disease and intolerance in humans.
What are the sources of gluten?
- Sauces (wheat flour to make it thicken)
- Brewer’s yeast
- Everything that contains wheat
- All package products containing gluten above 20 ppm
Cross-contact occurs when gluten-free foods or items come in contact with gluten. Generally, sharing utensils or a cooking/storage area can cause cross-contact. For food to be safe for someone with celiac disease, it should not come in contact with gluten-containing foods.
Where cross-contact can occur:
- Toasters used for normal bread
- Strainers, cutting boards, or flour sieves
- Improperly washed containers shared containers
- Wheat flour can stay in the air in an oven (or home) for hours and contaminate preparation surfaces and utensils or open gluten-free products
Oats and wheat can form cross-contact in the fields where they are grown side by side. It is necessary to only select oats specifically labeled as gluten-free.
There are also studies on the effects of psychological health and budgets of people who are not celiac patients or don’t have gluten sensitivity and those who are following a gluten-free diet.
Studies in the US show that the cost of a balanced gluten-free diet is about 240% than a balanced normal diet. Prices vary significantly in different parts of the US.
Celiac Disease Awareness Activities
Celiac conferences were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, it is possible to see how much the Celiac Disease Foundation’s awareness-raising activities are. Nevertheless, one can see how many activities the Celiac Disease Foundation has when it comes to raising awareness. Team Celiac Disease Foundation has a volunteer team called Gluten-Free. They are also the community’s fundraising team. In Celiac Camps, volunteer physicians teach celiac children that they are not alone and about their diet. Summits are organized by scientific authorities for the FDA to properly label gluten-free foods.
The Celiac Disease Foundation has published a list of all gluten-free products and recipes on its site. It is possible to find all kinds of information that will make life easier with celiac disease, including gluten-free companies and gluten-free meal samples.