Any time you sit down for a meal it should be a pleasant experience. Whether at home, out in a restaurant or here on campus, many people are always looking forward to their next meal. However, that is not the case for everyone. For some, eating can be a real chore. Food allergies affect millions of people around the world and make it hard to choose foods and beverages appropriately. For today’s blog, I am taking a closer look at Celiac Disease, a gluten intolerance which affects nearly 1 in 100 Americans.
Celiac disease, according to Celiac.com, is a genetic digestive disorder. Also sometimes referred to as gluten intolerance, this disorder stems from the body’s intolerance of dietary gluten (composed of the proteins glutenin and gliadin) which is found in grains like wheat, barley and rye. Symptoms of the disease can range from diarrhea, weight loss, bloating, stomach cramps to malnutrition which may lead to some nutritional deficiencies in the long-term, according to Celiac.com.
The disease mostly affects people of European descent, the website states. However, recent studies have shown it also affects African-American and Asian populations as well. Individuals with the intolerance will suffer damage to the villi of their intestines when they eat specific grain food antigens (or, a substance which will generate an immune system response) found in wheat, rye, and barley. Over time, this damage can result in an increased risk of some other diseases, such as gastrointestinal cancers.
While Celiac Disease may be a recognizable term to some, webmd.com suggests there are many forms of gluten intolerance. Non-Celiac Gluten Intolerance is where an individual possesses all the symptoms of a gluten allergy, but blood tests available to show genetic markers for the inherited trait yield negative results. Some individuals may also mistake a wheat allergy or yeast allergy for Celiac Disease, the website states. These two allergies have different symptoms and treatments.
So, what do individuals with Celiac Disease eat? An individual with a diagnosed gluten intolerance must adhere to a gluten-free diet, so choosing foods can be a challenge, especially when specific ingredients are not known. Here on campus, you have a variety of ways to know just what you are eating. Have you noticed the line cards for the Daily Fare line in Winslow? These cards not only present the name of the food being served, but they show specific ingredients of the foods on the back. You should not hesitate to check the back of these cards if you are trying to stay away from certain ingredients – that is why they are there. Also, when buying food in a grocery store, look for ingredients such as wheat flour, whole-grain or indicators of any type of grain or grain flour. These foods would irritate a person with gluten intolerance, according to Celiac.com. Oats may not be harmful to those with Celiac Disease, but products containing oats or oat flour may have been manufactured in a place where gluten-containing products were also made. For highly gluten-allergic individuals, this may pose a problem due to cross-contamination. Look for labels that address where and how a product was manufactured to be on the safe side, webmd.com states.
Still have questions? Speak with a nutritional professional if you feel like you may have gluten intolerance. If you do have Celiac Disease, let Dining Services know and we will make sure you have options available in Winslow. For more info on special diets, email Kayla Crusham, the nutritional assistant in Winslow at firstname.lastname@example.org.