In the relatively short amount of time I have been on a gluten free diet, the wheat free and gluten free marketplace has become a booming business. It’s not surprising, since Celiac Disease affects 1 out of 133 people. But, what is surprising is that 97 percent of people with Celiac Disease go undiagnosed. And according to the Mayo Clinic, “young people today are more than four times as likely to have Celiac Disease than was the case 60 years ago.”
Celiac Disease should not be mistaken with a food or wheat allergy. It is an autoimmune disease and digestive disorder based on the severe intolerance of gluten found in all forms of wheat. And once you start looking, wheat is in everything – from less obvious foods like soups, soy sauce, licorice, ice cream and salad dressings, to obvious foods like bread, cereal and crackers.
While four years ago I scratched my head in bewilderment wondering what in the world I was going to eat, now I am able to find an ample amount of pre-made foods, companies, grocery stores and personal care products that cater to those with wheat and gluten intolerance. I had no idea (nor did a slew of specialists I visited in my search for the answer to my woes) that the culprit of my intense health maladies was an unsuspecting grain that looks so carefree blowing in the breeze. Turns out, I’m not alone. Most people with Celiac Disease as well as wheat allergy sufferers are clueless as to why they are in ill health.
Some symptoms of Celiac Disease, which may appear at any time in a person’s life, include: recurring bloating, gas or abdominal pain, migraine headaches, nausea, and fatigue, weakness or lack of energy, among many others. Celiac Disease/wheat allergies are often confused with IBS or food poisoning.
The complex structure of wheat makes it very difficult to digest. If you have been suffering from unexplainable symptoms, you might consider talking to your doctor or nutritionist about trying a wheat free diet to see if your health improves.
A word to the wise: the blood test administered to determine whether you have Celiac Disease does not always produce an accurate result. Go with your gut… literally. If you feel better not eating wheat, avoid it! Doing so will take research and education, but it’s getting easier and easier to forgo the grain.
Image: Vox Humana