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WHAT IS CELIAC DISEASE?                                                                           Page 2

You must follow a lifelong gluten-free diet. This allows the intestinal villi to heal. Eliminate foods, beverages, and medications that contain wheat, barley, rye, and possibly oats.

You must read food and medication labels carefully to look for hidden sources of these grains and their derivatives. Since wheat and barley grains are found abundantly in the American diet, keeping to this diet is challenging. With education and planning, you will achieve the goal of healing.

You should NOT begin the gluten-free diet before a diagnosis is made. Doing so will affect future testing for the disease. If you get a biopsy done, then go on a gluten free diet then get another test done, it will show you don’t have the disease anymore, only because you don’t have the wheat in your system to ruin your body and make it react to it.

The exact cause of celiac disease is unknown. The intestines contain projections (called villi) that absorb nutrients. In undiagnosed or untreated celiac disease, these villi become flattened. This affects the ability to absorb nutrients properly.

The disease can develop at any point in life, from infancy to late adulthood. Many times a big emotional or physical stress in life can trigger the disease. Things like childbirth, surgery, stress.

Those with a family member with celiac disease are at greater risk for developing the disease. The disorder is most common in Caucasians and those of European ancestry. Women are affected more commonly than men.

There are numerous diseases and conditions associated with celiac disease, including:
• Anemia
• Autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis
• Certain types of intestinal cancer
• Dermatitis herpetiformis
• Down syndrome
• Lactose Intolerance
• Miscarriage or unexplained infertility
• Neurological conditions
• Thyroid disease
• Type 1 Diabetes

Removing all damaging grains from the diet is the most important measure you can take to become healthy. If you follow the diet strictly, you can expect to lead a long, healthy life -- if permanent damage did not occur before diagnosis



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