Celiac disease, or sprue, is a digestive disorder affecting millions of Americans. It is characterized by intolerance of a protein called gluten and poor absorption of critical nutrients, and produces symptoms of gas, bloating weight loss, and more. So, this inherited GI condition requires careful dietary management.
Let’s learn more about celiac disease, how a gluten-free diet can help, and where you go for celiac disease treatment in Westlake and Brooklyn, OH.
What Is Celiac Disease?
Somewhat mysterious in origin, celiac disease (also called gluten-sensitive enteropathy) comes from an inherited defect in the immune system. In essence, the body attacks the villi of the small intestine, disabling proper absorption of a dietary protein called gluten. Blood levels of key vitamins begin to decrease, and other symptoms develop, including:
- Bloody, fatty stools
- Joint and bone pain
- Hair loss
- Poor appetite
- Weight loss
Blood tests and a minimally-invasive assessment called an upper GI endoscopy can help diagnose celiac disease. In this test, the physician inserts a lighted tube down the throat into the esophagus, stomach, and small intestine. Equipped with a miniaturized camera, the endoscope takes real-time video and still images of the interior of the intestine.
What Foods Contain Gluten?
Many foods and medications do. The most notable are:
- Gravy and sauce mixes
- Cake, cookie, and brownie mixes
- Wheat flour
Frankly, the list of gluten-containing foods is quite extensive, so it is incumbent upon the gluten-sensitive patient to read labels and be as fully informed about dietary restrictions. Reducing or eliminating foods containing gluten can reduce symptoms and heal the damaged portions of the small intestine.
What Does a Gluten-free Diet Look Like?
Gastroenterologists hear this question all the time. When people are newly diagnosed, eliminating gluten from their everyday diet seems overwhelming, but patients adjust to it over time.
In general, the sprue patient should avoid:
- Some kinds of oats
Despite those restrictions, the celiac patient still can enjoy a wide range of menu choices, including:
- Unprocessed Meats
- Low-fat dairy products
Besides checking food packaging for ingredients, patients should look for foods that are specifically labeled “gluten-free.” This term applies to foods and beverages which contain 20 parts per million or less of gluten as prescribed by the FDA.
Regarding food preparation, ensure to store gluten-containing foods separately from your gluten-free items. Keep cooking utensils separate and all cooking and prep surfaces clean.
If you eat at a restaurant, look at the menu carefully. Ask about ingredients, and if possible, have your food prepared on a separate or gluten-free surface. As more and more people become educated about celiac disease, food sensitivities, and allergies, more restaurants will be willing to accommodate these special needs, particularly during off-peak hours.
Celiac Disease Treatment in Westlake, OH
While celiac disease and its treatment take time and patience, it can be done successfully, so you feel better and enjoy vibrant digestive health. Your GI physicians at NorthShore Gastroenterology & Endoscopy Centers in Westlake and Brooklyn, OH, have the diagnostic and treatment expertise to help celiac disease patients of all ages.
If you suspect you have sprue or want additional counsel on how to manage it, call us today at (440) 808-1212 for a consultation with one of our board-certified gastroenterologists or request an appointment online.