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Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disorder that forces many people to adopt a gluten-free diet.
Who has it?
In a study conducted in 2003, it was found that 1 in every 133 people have Celiac Disease. More than 90% of these people don't even know that they have it. Why? Due to Celiac's long-term effects, most people with the disease see no signs of its presence early in life, and only find out that they have Celiac later in life through Osteoporosis or different forms of cancer. The small percentage of people who are diagnosed have either been discovered because they have additional short-term effects, or were tested for other reasons.
People eating gluten-free for the "fad" are not doing so because they have Celiac. The "fad" is motivated by a largely false presumption that gluten is harmful to all humans.
How do I know if I have Celiac Disease?
A few blood tests can give you valid information regarding whether or not you have Celiac Disease. These are the tTGA and EMA tests: your doctor will be able to tell you exactly which one to get. If your results are not normal, you can get an endoscopy to be 100% sure (many doctors now feel that endoscopies are unnecessary in most cases). It's that easy. A simple blood test could save you from long-term effects. Countries like Italy have stronger rules regarding testing, which is why their percentage of Celiacs diagnosed is nine times more than that of the U.S.
Starting your gluten-free diet
Before you start your GF diet, you need to know what gluten is.
Gluten is found primarily in the following products:
Oats—only when grown with wheat (which it normally is)
For almost every food, there is a GF equivalent that tastes just as good.
Keep a (mostly) gluten-free household. Do your best to keep your home free of gluten. If another household member wants gluten, then set rules, create GF zones, and make it clear to everyone that all things with gluten must be kept separate and marked with a large "GF."
Don't feel guilty. If someone specially makes you something gluten-free, but you don't think you can trust their understanding of cross-contamination, have the power to say no. Politely explain how strict you have to be. Remember, a small snack just isn't worth the consequences.
Keeping your diet gluten-free
Don't let time change how you judge your food. Assumptions are bad, and are often made if you've been buying the same product and it has been GF. Ingredients can change. Make sure to always check to see if something is "made in a factory containing wheat," etc. Our suggestion:
"Made in the same factory" is okay, just be careful.
"May contain traces of..." is not a safe idea.
Whatever you chose to do, always remember that you can check in with a company, or visit our listings here at OnTrackCeliac.