Well - Spring 2011 - (Page 12)
TIM FREER CONTRIBUTED TO THIS ARTIClE. Not too many years ago, it was rare to hear that someone was eating a gluten-free diet. Now, it seems to be much more prevalent. so much so that grocery stores have entire aisles specifically for gluten-free foods, and restaurants are including gluten-free menus. this is more than a passing trend, however, or the latest weight-loss plan. glutenfree diets are the only effective treatment for patients with celiac disease, and the number of diagnoses in patients is rising.
“We have seen a large increase in the number of celiac cases in the last five years,” says Steve Lichtman, MD, chief of Pediatric Gastroenterology at UNC Health Care, “and we don’t know exactly why.” According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, approximately one in 133 Americans has celiac disease, and many of those cases are undiagnosed because of the variability of symptoms, which could have a number of causes. Celiac disease, also known as celiac sprue or gluten intolerance, is a genetic, autoimmune disorder. Foods containing gluten cause the body’s immune system to respond by damaging the small intestine. Specifically, it causes the loss of villi, the tiny fingerlike protrusions that line the small intestine, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. As a result, the body is unable to absorb nutrients, and malnutrition can occur.
gluten is found in many everyday foods, such as breads, cereals and pasta.
what is gluten?
for patients who have been diagnosed with celiac disease, it is critical that they follow a strictly gluten-free diet. it is a lifelong dietary lifestyle change and is the only way to prevent the damaging effects that gluten has on the body.
Gluten is common in foods, especially most pastas, grains and cereals and many processed foods. “Gluten is found in products that contain rye, wheat and barley,” says Jennifer Wills-Gallagher, MPPA, RD, LDN, a dietitian at UNC Health Care. She warns that patients need to avoid items such as bread, pasta, cookies, cakes and pizza crust. Foods that are safe to eat include most meats, fruits and vegetables.
“It may be frustrating at first, but with a little homework people will find many items safe to eat,” Wills-Gallagher says. “Grains and starches considered safe include rice, corn, millet, buckwheat, quinoa, beans, flax, lentils, nuts, peas, potato, seeds and tapioca.” Properly followed, the gluten-free diet will yield results almost immediately, with many patients noticing an improvement in symptoms within days. Within three to six months, the small intestine may be able to heal significantly, depending on the extent of the damage before diagnosis. Even after you learn what foods are “safe,” Wills-Gallagher stresses the importance of always checking the ingredient list. “The FDA does not
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Well - Spring 2011
Well - Spring 2011
UNC Health Care News
Little Patients Require Special Care
2010 Community Benefit Summary
Well - Spring 2011