Celiac Disease Awareness Day is Sept. 13. Celiac disease is an abnormal immune system response that damages the intestines.
Symptoms can vary widely from going unnoticed to impacting daily life. They include, gas, abdominal swelling, bloating, abnormal stools and/or diarrhea, unwanted weight loss, fatigue, weakness and vomiting. These symptoms can be helped or alleviated by avoiding gluten foods.
Gluten foods contain wheat, rye and barley, and are proven to be the culprit in causing such stomach distress.
Normally, villi line the large surface of the small intestine. Villi are tiny fingerlike projections that help with the absorption of vitamins, sugars and other nutrients as food passes through the gastrointestinal tract. When someone with celiac disease eats gluten, those villi flatten out, not allowing absorption of important nutrients. The intestinal lining becomes inflamed and symptoms persist.
It is important for individuals with celiac disease to know what foods contain gluten. This also means scanning foods for hidden ingredients. For example, malt is associated with barley, so beer would not be a good choice to consume.