Understanding the impact on those living with Celiac Disease

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May is Celiac Awareness Month and during this time, it’s great to gain a better understanding on this misunderstood, autoimmune disease.

Dr. Vikki Peterson, Certified Clinical Nutritionist shares her insight into Celiac Disease and some common misconceptions.

Here are Dr. Vikki Petersen’s top 4 myths about Celiac Disease that you should be aware of:

#1: Celiac Disease and wheat allergies are one-in-the-same
It is sometimes thought that celiac disease is the same as a wheat allergy. They are very different. Celiac is an autoimmune disease where one has to avoid gluten (wheat, rye, barley) for life. Celiac is quite common, affecting 1% of the population, making it one of the most common lifelong disorders in the U.S. and Europe. Wheat allergies are actually very rare.

#2: Small amounts of gluten won’t affect those with Celiac
A misconception is that a “bite” or “sip” of something containing gluten couldn’t possibly bother someone suffering from celiac disease. The fact is that the need to avoid gluten is not quantitative, but rather qualitative… meaning that a “crumb” of a bread crumb on a salad is enough to create very ill effects on someone with the disease. 

#3: Gluten-free diet is a “fad”
A misconception is that avoiding gluten is a “fad” and not really necessary. Unfortunately, unhandled Celiac Disease (meaning the individual is not avoiding gluten completely) can lead to cancer (lymphoma), liver disease, thyroid disease, miscarriages, neurological diseases and more. Symptoms and long-term manifestations go far beyond an “upset stomach”.

#4: Gluten sensitivity is different from celiac disease.
Celiac Disease, as we have said, is an autoimmune disease. The misconception that gluten sensitivity is not a “real” condition has been debunked by a number of world-renowned researchers. What both conditions have in common is the need to remove all gluten from one’s diet. 

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