Diet for persons with celiac disease

Understanding Celiac Disease?

Celiac Disease is a digestive disorder that occurs in reaction to gluten a form of protein found mostly in wheat, barley, rye, and possibly oats when combined with gluten starches. It is autoimmune and mostly affects genetically predisposed people. When people with Celiac Disease ingest gluten, their body mounts an immune response against gluten components that attacks the small intestines imposing great damages to the villi (fInger-like projections in the small intestines) that enhances nutrient absorption into the body. The body’s ability to digest and absorb nutrients from food is therefore tampered with. So the Disease is actually malabsorption of an intestinal nature. Most patients improve on adherence to a gluten-free diet.

Prevalence of Celiac Disease

The incidence of this disease is more common than believed and could affect 1 in every 140 people. Globally, the prevalence of Celiac Disease was estimated to be 500 to 100,000 individuals in 2017. The current worldwide prevalence of the Celiac disease is 1.4%. The prevalence of the Celiac disease is 0.4% in South America, 0.5% in Africa and North America,0.6% in Asia, and 0.8% in Europe and Oceania (https://celiac.org/). In Kenya, the disease affects 1 in every 18 people.

Who is at risk?

Celiac Disease is mostly of genetic origin not hereditary and can develop at any stage or age in life after people start eating foods and medicines that contain gluten. It affects both children and adults alike. If left uncontrolled, Celiac Disease can lead to massive medical and nutritional problems.

Celiac Symptoms

The symptoms often vary from mild to severe and manifest mainly in the digestive tract. The most common and typical digestive symptoms are Abdominal pains and Bloating, Constipation, Diarrhoea, Vomiting, and Foul-smelling stool. Some people may be asymptomatic but will still develop intestinal damage. Adults who don’t exhibit digestive symptoms may show other symptoms like anemia, involuntary weight loss, fatigue. osteoporosis, infertility or miscarriage, mouth ulcers and, numbness of the feet because of the malabsorption of the vital nutrients both macronutrients: carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and micronutrients: vitamins and minerals.

What is the treatment?

There is no known cure for this disease.  We are dealing with a chronic disease that can only be controlled. Doctors may give steroids to help combat the symptoms depending on the severity but the most specific and sustainable treatment is the elimination of gluten intake and adherence to a gluten-free diet (GFD).

Diet for Celiac Disease.

The only efficient remedy for this disease is refraining from gluten intake. Therefore, persons with celiac disease should avoid food products, infusions, and beverages made from wheat, rye, and barley. Such people should take foods that are naturally gluten-free like millet, corn, rice, amaranth, quinoa, legumes, nuts, vegetables, fruits, eggs, and, liquid milk. From these foods, a wide array of meals can be derived to meet a person’s nutritional requirements.

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