Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Celiac and Mythology

Guest Post by Author Jeanne Donnelly (aimlesswriter.blogspot.com)

When first going gluten free due to a diagnosis of celiac disease, you have to wade through a lot of information (and not all of it will be correct). People will tell you things they heard about celiac disease from their cousin’s uncle’s brother’s mother and swear it’s true. You’ll hear their denials about the importance of cross contamination and how they swear they knew someone who out-grew it. The most dangerous thing to your health at this point is not knowing what is true.  Let’s cover a few of the myths right now.

Myth: I used to have celiac disease, but I out grew it!
Nobody out-grows celiac disease. Ever. It’s a hereditary, autoimmune disease and if you have a definite diagnosis, you have it for life. You may not have symptoms, but that doesn’t mean gluten is not damaging your body in some way. Symptoms can resurface at any time and cause other problems such as cancer, infertility and other autoimmune problems. If you’re a celiac, you must maintain a gluten free diet to stay healthy.

Myth: I haven't been tested yet, but I must have it. It's best if I just go gluten free!
Do not go off gluten until you have a diagnosis. Once you have stopped eating gluten, the antibodies they look for during diagnosis will begin to go down and your intestines will start to heal. This will cause a false negative, and you will never know for sure if you have celiac disease or not. To get an accurate diagnosis you would have to go back on gluten for at least 12 weeks. If you do have celiac disease, this could make you very sick. Because Celiac Disease is hereditary, an accurate diagnosis is important for your family history and other members of your blood line. Gene testing is available now, but the presence of the gene does not mean that you have celiac disease, you may just be a carrier. 

Myth: A little gluten won’t hurt me.
Even one small amount of gluten will trigger an inflammatory immune reaction. Some celiacs do not feel this or present symptoms, but the attack on your immune system can cause damage. Repeated ingestion of gluten can cause long term problems, such as vitamin deficiencies, respiratory allergies, and more. 

Myth: Spelt is gluten free.
No, spelt is not gluten free. Spelt is sometimes suggested to a new celiac by health store employees because they believe it to be gluten free. It is not. Spelt is wheat and therefore has gluten.

Truth: Celiac Disease is Manageable
With a little creativity you can find good, gluten free substitutes for all your favorite foods. Experiment with different brands or making things from scratch. When on the go, pack some food to take along so you’re not starving.  Read as much as you can about living the gluten free way of life. Not all advice will fit your lifestyle, so it may take a while to sift through it all. Eventually, you’ll figure out how to be gluten free, healthy, and happy.

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