Many of you have probably heard of the new diet craze around gluten-free food products. These items are increasingly more accessible in local grocery stores, bakeries and restaurants. What many do not know is that gluten-free products are not meant for weight loss but actually to combat an autoimmune disease that strikes at least three million people in America. Celiac disease is caused by an allergic reaction to a protein commonly found in wheat and grains called gluten.
Celiac disease damages the small intestine and leads the body to start fighting itself. Because the disease has over 300 symptoms that mimic other diseases, it is hard to diagnose and can take up to four years to be diagnosed. A gluten-free diet is the most effective treatment, and without this lifestyle change, celiac disease can lead to can lead to osteoporosis, infertility, neurological conditions and sometimes cancer.
The disease affects one in every 236 African-, Hispanic- and Asian-Americans and is often undiagnosed. It is very important to learn the symptoms of celiac disease and to talk to your doctor about the process of diagnosis. To learn more about celiac disease and its symptoms, please visit the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness at http://www.celiaccentral.org/.
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