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eat smart | GLUTEN


gluten-free and happy!


by JOANN MILIVOJEVIC


Bi-weekly migraines, constant digestive issues and weight gain were just a few of Jasmine Jafferali’s health problems. At 26, she felt old and tired all the time. A variety of medical tests could not reveal the root of what was wrong, but a trip to a naturopathic fi nally did. The cause of her symptoms was gluten intolerance.


“I gave up gluten cold turkey,” said Jafferali. “Within six weeks, my migraines disappeared, and my digestive issues got better, too.” Gluten-intolerance or celiac disease is a common genetic disorder that affects people world-wide. More than two million Americans have the disease, or about one in 133 people. Those with celiac disease have to avoid gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. Lots of favorite foods contain gluten,


including pizza, pastas, breads and many processed foods. Fortunately, there are plenty gluten-free alternatives these days in the grocery store and in local restaurants and bakeries. You can be gluten-free and happy.


What it is ... what it does Celiac disease


is a digestive disease


that damages the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients. When people with the disease eat gluten, their immune system kicks into action and destroys villi. These little fi nger-like protrusions line the small intestines and enable us to absorb foods. Without healthy villi, you can become malnourished, no matter how much food you eat.


It’s a tricky disease to diagnose because


quick tip


If you think you may have celiac disease,


wait until you’ve been diagnosed to start a


gluten-free diet. That’s because according to the Mayo Clinic


(www.mayoclinic.com), it may be more difficult


for your doctor to make a diagnosis if you’ve


begun the diet before being tested.


the symptoms can vary from person to person, and these symptoms could be caused by other diseases. Many adults have the disease for a decade or more before they are properly diagnosed.


The longer a person goes undiagnosed and untreated, the greater the chance of developing long-term complications. Left untreated, celiac disease damages the small intestine and can cause a host of other health issues. Jafferali, who holds a master’s degree in public health, said it could also cause fertility problems in women.


Celiac disease is hereditary. If one of your family members has celiac disease, you should consider being tested. Diagnosis involves blood tests and, in most cases, a biopsy of the small intestine.


midwest health+wellness issue 1, 2014 17


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