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  • Writer's pictureMaria C Colon-Gonzalez

Celiac Disease Awareness Month

Updated: Sep 28, 2023

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease. It is not just a food allergy or a "trend." When a person eats gluten, its immune system attacks itself. It affects primarily your bowels and can lead to problems absorbing other essential nutrients in your diet. One risk factor is having a family member with celiac disease.


1%-3% of the population has this medical condition, which affects more women than men. However, about 80% of the population does not receive a diagnosis since presenting symptoms vary from person to person. Some people develop diarrhea, fatigue, headache, and rashes, while others might develop depression, anxiety, or numbness in the extremities.


When a doctor suspects you might have celiac disease, they might advise you to follow a gluten-free diet for some time and journal about your symptoms. Blood tests and special procedures can also be completed to confirm the diagnosis.


A gluten-free diet is an essential part of the treatment. When going to the grocery stores, read labels and choose products that do not contain wheat, rye, barley, malt, or brewer's yeast (AKA no beer)—opting for products made with quinoa, teff, millet, amaranth, buckwheat, and rice and eating starchy vegetables as a source of healthy carbohydrates and fiber. Changing to a gluten-free diet can be challenging, but you can speak with your physician. A good nutritionist can also help you make small changes at a time.


If you suspect you have celiac disease, you can complete the assessment tool for the Celiac Disease Foundation online for free. (https://celiac.org/about-celiac-disease/symptoms-assessment-tool). If you need ideas on healthy gluten-free recipes, I recommend The Plant-Based Gluten-Free Cookbook: Over 75 Easy Recipes for Amazing Health and Energy by KC Carr. When eating at a restaurant, always ask your server about specific ingredients, if not evident in the menu, and ask for your meal to be modified and responsive to your health needs.


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