Although food intolerance can be a common problem, in some cases digestive issues are as a result of an actual disease or disorder in the body. Celiac disease is one such condition. Those with this disease must not consume gluten, a protein found in rye, barley and wheat. Consumption of gluten damages the small intestine thus restricting food nutrient absorption. A person with celiac disease can literally become malnourished.
Although the disease is genetic, it may not actually become active. Things such as stress, surgery, childbirth, pregnancy and infections can trigger it at any time in life. Some symptoms are digestion related, such as diarrhea, constipation, bloating, or unusual stools. Other times symptoms are more difficult to recognize, such as depression, fatigue, arthritis, seizures, skin rash, anemia, infertility, and bone pain. Oddly enough, in the early stages of the disease sometimes there are no symptoms at all, and is not found until complications from malnutrition are evidenced.
Celiac disease is fairly common in the United States affecting about 1 in 133 people. As a hereditary disease one can be screened for the disease even while there are no symptoms. Blood tests should be conducted before one alters their diet as they will not be able to diagnose celiac disease if gluten has already been removed. Although more invasive, a biopsy of the small intestine can be performed by using an endoscopic procedure.
There is no magic pill to treat celiac disease. It cannot be cured. The only treatment is to remove all gluten from the diet. This can be challenging since gluten is a hidden ingredient in many products as additives. Furthermore, many products are produced alongside wheat containing products which can result in contamination.
Thankfully gluten-free products are becoming readily available in our favorite grocery stores as companies recognize the huge numbers of people that have this disorder. Some restaurants are even preparing gluten-free menus for their customers.