Celiac Awareness Month

By Amy Merwarth, RD, CDN
Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition

May is National Celiac Disease Awareness month!  This is an important time to bring attention to this hereditary, autoimmune disorder that affects the digestive system when foods containing gluten are consumed.  Gluten is found in foods that contain wheat, rye, barley and possibly oats.  Three million Americans are living with celiac disease, yet 83% of individuals living with celiac disease are still undiagnosed!  This is a remarkable improvement from 10 years ago when there were 97% undiagnosed.  Celiac disease affects 1 out of every 141 Americans and 1 in 22 first-degree family members (parent, child, and sibling) and 1 in 39 second-degree family members (aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, cousin, grandparent, grandchild and half-sibling) are at risk for celiac disease.  Your risk may double if your sibling has celiac disease.

Being diagnosed with any disease can be difficult.  Knowing why you haven’t been feeling well can be a relief.  Everyone is affected differently by the symptoms and some people are even free of symptoms.  A 2012 survey found that 35% of people who were at risk for celiac disease had no reason to suspect that the symptoms they were experiencing were due to undiagnosed celiac disease.  Some of the symptoms of celiac disease include: abdominal distension, abdominal pain, anemia, bloating, bone pain, constipation, cramping, dental hypoplasia (enamel missing on teeth), dermatitis herpetiformis (rash), diarrhea, poor growth, fatigue, folate deficiency, foul smelling stools, inability to concentrate, irritability, muscle cramps, osteopenia, osteoporosis, short stature, sleep disturbance, weakness, weight loss and/or vomiting.

If left untreated, celiac disease can increase your risk of other problems such as osteoporosis, osteopenia, infertility, thyroid disease, nutrition deficiencies, multiple food allergies and even certain cancers like lymphoma.  This is why it is important to be screened and tested for celiac disease, especially if you are at risk.  You may want to talk about getting tested for celiac disease with your primary care doctor if you have a family member with this disease and or have symptoms suggestive of this disease.

For more information visit: www.CeliacCentral.org

Grilled Summer Vegetables- Tasty and Gluten-Free!
1 (about 1 ¼ lbs) unpeeled eggplant, sliced in ½ inch rounds
1 (about ¾ lb) zucchini, sliced diagonally in ½ inch rounds
1 (about ½ lb) sweet red pepper, halved, seeded, cut in ½ inch strips
2 Tbsp basting oil
Vegetable Oil

Clean grill with wire brush.  Using soft cloth, coat grill grate lightly with vegetable oil.
Drizzle eggplant, zucchini and pepper with basting oil.  Sear on both sides.
Grill, turning every 1-2 minutes, until both sides are grill-marked and vegetables are knife-tender, 10-12 minutes.

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