You’ve probably seen it in the grocery store or on a page of the restaurant menu: “Gluten Free” in bold letters. It’s a claim that for some people means a choice to help them lose weight or to live a healthier lifestyle. But for others it is truly not a choice and it can make all the difference to their long-term health. Is going gluten free a “choice” or a “must” for you? Your local Any Lab Test Now can help you decide.
Not a Fad but a Fact
For some people, the ingestion of gluten leads to a cascade of health problems that end with serious damage to the small intestine. These are the people who have celiac disease, a very serious autoimmune disorder. According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, 2.5 million Americans are living with the disease undiagnosed…and are at serious risk for long-term health complications. Complications like malnutrition, osteoporosis, infertility, even certain types of cancer can occur if the disease is left untreated.
Little Protein; Big Problem
So, what happens when you have celiac disease? The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has some helpful information. Basically, when a person with celiac disease ingests gluten, their body can’t digest it and it hangs around in their system triggering an autoimmune response. That’s when the body goes on the attack! Over time, that leads to the damage of the small intestine and other potential health problems. The only way to stop the damage at this point is to avoid ingesting gluten, which is easier said than done. Gluten is found in wheat, barley and rye, so it shows up most often in bread, pasta, and baked treats. But this little protein is tricky! It can show up in lip balms, toothpastes, and even envelope adhesive.
Signs and Symptoms
Celiac disease is serious and you might wonder just how 2.5 million Americans can continue to live with this disease, undiagnosed? That’s because the symptoms can be so different for each person. We could fill a page with some of the different symptoms to look for in adults and children, but here are a few:
- Bone or joint pain
- Depression or anxiety
- Chronic diarrhea
- Numbness in hands and feet
- Abdominal pain and bloating
You can take your health into your own hands if you suspect you have celiac disease. Any Lab Test Now offers tests to help you get answers:
CICA – Celiac, IBS, and Crohn’s Array – Want to check for a wider range? Consider the CICA test, which measures gut health on the genetic, antibody, and cellular levels. This is a much deeper investigation that can point you and your doctor in the right direction.
Celiac Disease vs. Gluten Sensitivity
Be aware that celiac disease is different from gluten sensitivity. If you have gluten sensitivity, you may have symptoms similar to those of celiac disease, but gluten sensitivity does not damage the small intestine. Any Lab Test Now offers the ALCAT 50 Food Panel to test for food sensitivity and intolerance. Check here to find an Any Lab Test Now location near you.