Many people in the world eat a low-gluten diet for various reasons, often the result of new health fads. However, the accessibility of gluten-free foods is owed to the prevalence of people with celiac disease. Celiac disease is the result of an autoimmune response to the presence of gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. It is estimated that 1 in 100 people worldwide suffer from celiac disease.
Celiac disease is characterized by the body mounting an immune attack on the small intestine when gluten is detected. The symptoms of a celiac episode can range from chronic diarrhea or constipation to weight loss to more serious symptoms like infertility. Celiac disease can also cause pain such as bloating or muscle pain or fatigue. It is important to note that although a symptom of celiac disease is chronic diarrhea, there are many other illnesses that are characterized by chronic diarrhea besides celiac disease. To diagnose celiac disease, your medical doctor or gastroenterologist will do a physical exam and examine your health history; they will likely also order blood work done to look for higher than normal levels of gluten antibodies.
There is only one way to treat celiac disease effectively: completely eliminating gluten from your diet. Fortunately, in recent years, the market has exploded with an unending number of gluten-free food alternatives – bread, pasta, cereal, pizza, and numerous other beloved foods can be found in gluten-free versions, allowing those with celiac disease to continue enjoying their favorite foods without fear of a bout of diarrhea or abdominal pain.