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Gluten-Free Cause and Effect

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Submitted By jtksmom
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In 2006, my mom and I were both diagnosed with Celiac Disease. This has been a huge struggle of ours and continues to be an ongoing battle. We have thoroughly researched the cause and effects of celiac disease. It all begins with gluten being the culprit. Eating gluten for people with celiac disease can be time consuming, expensive, and can cause numerous health issues. Originally, the human species lived depending only on animal protein, vegetables, fruits, seeds, and nuts. It wasn’t until approximately 9500 BC that the transition in agriculture began and humans started to eat carbohydrates and grains (grains being the producer of gluten). Gluten is a food protein that is found in wheat, barley, rye, and in some instances, oat. Celiac disease is described as a genetic autoimmune disorder in the digestive system of the small intestines. Gluten triggers the autoimmune system to respond to gluten because it considers the protein as harmful to the body. Celiac disease has grown over the last decade with a high statistics rate. Studies show that gluten intolerance for the healthy person is 1 in 33, and people with immediate relatives like parents, children, and siblings who are celiac is 1 in 22; those with relatives like aunts, uncles, and cousins who are celiac is 1 in 39 (Stohs). In 2011, it was stated that, “1% of Americans have been diagnosed with celiac disease, yet some people show no symptoms; statistics show that only 5% to 10% of cases are diagnosed” (Jaret). Celiac disease can be hard to diagnose and in some instances can be self diagnosed. There is neither medication nor treatment that will alleviate the symptoms or cure the disease. It is essential for a person with celiac disease to follow a gluten-free diet for the duration of their lifetime. Living a gluten-free lifestyle can be time consuming and expensive. Gluten is in a large amount of items; it is a full time job just to read labels and be on the look out. Gluten is found in food products of all types, liquid beverages, hair products, make up, and medications, just to name a few. Label reading continues to be a battle due to products changing frequently, and new items hitting the market. One problem this creates is eating out. Some restaurants claim that some of their menu items are gluten-free, but they are not always accurate due to their lack of knowledge. For an example, if breaded foods are fried in the same fryer as French fries, the fries have been cross-contaminated. The same goes in to affect when you go to a pizza place and order a gluten-free pizza. If the pizzas are all made in the same kitchen, the flour is in the air cross contaminating the gluten-free pizzas. There are numerous instances where a person with celiac disease eats something that has been cross-contaminated. This can then cause the person with celiac disease to become sick. Some might not get extremely sick, but there are people with celiac disease that might have to be hospitalized due to the cross-contamination. On a positive note, grocery stores, food manufacturers, and some restaurants have worked with the Celiac Disease Foundation to provide us to have a more convenient way to shop and more food readily available. “People who have had Celiac Disease for 15 to 20 years are astounded at the selection of gluten-free foods out there,” states Peter Green, director of the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University (Jaret). It is said that Americans spend $10.5 billion dollars a year on gluten-free foods (“Dr. Oz”). This is where it shows how expensive eating gluten free is. Whether you are cooking with processed foods, all natural foods, or healthy organic fruits and vegetables, it is costly, but it is required to be healthy and symptom free. When a person with celiac disease eats gluten, it can cause numerous amounts of symptoms that range anywhere from mild to extreme, each person’s symptoms will be different from the next. Some of the most common symptoms seen are diarrhea, constipation, gas, bloating, cramping, fatigue, depression, moodiness, leg cramps, and joint aches and pains. Some people can gain weight, whereas, some might lose weight. When cutting out gluten it is essential to monitor your vitamins, minerals, and fiber levels; these are nutrients that are beneficial to your health. Gluten can cause skin conditions such as; eczema, acne, and Keratosis Pilaris, which are the bumps on the back of some peoples arms. Celiac disease can also be linked to Type 1 Diabetes. Both diseases are autoimmune disorders.
In order to assess the genetic similarities and differences between the two inflammatory disorders, the researchers obtained 9339 control samples, 8064 samples from people with type 1 diabetes, and 2560 samples from individuals with celiac disease. They found a total of seven regions of a chromosome were shared between the two (University). “These researchers results suggest that type 1 diabetes and celiac disease only share genetic causes but could have similar environmental triggers as well,” states Professor John Todd, from the University of Cambridge. With this all being said, if you are having any of these symptoms, eating and living a gluten-free lifestyle should rid you of all side effects and prevent your body from developing any further health risks related to celiac disease. Eating a gluten-free diet is time consuming and expensive, but it is important. Celiac disease can cause numerous health issues in the future if the gluten-free diet is not followed. The gluten-free diet needs to be taken seriously and people need to realize the facts. My mom and I have worked through the struggles and the inconveniences together. We walk through this journey in our lives together. People should know that there are support groups for celiac disease and that there and numerous amounts of resources out there to help you through your journey also.

Works Citied
“Drs. Oz & Roizen: Gluten-Free Foods Have Benefits For Everyone.” idahostatesman. Idaho Statesman, 22 March 2014. Web. 10 March 2014.
Jaret, Peter. “The Truth About Gluten.” webmd. WebMD, 2 March 2011. Web. 24 March 2014.
Stohs, Nancy. “Gluten Intolerance Rising In Developed Countries.” jsonline. Journal Sentinel, 27 April 2010. Web. 24 March 2014.
University of Cambridge. "Type 1 Diabetes And Celiac Disease Linked." ScienceDaily. Science Daily, 11 December 2008. Web. 26 June 2014.

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