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Celiac Disease- What you need to know

Author

July 09, 2012

By Marilyn Geller

Celiac disease is an inherited autoimmune disorder that affects the digestive process of the small intestine. When a person who has celiac disease consumes gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley, the individual’s immune system responds by attacking the small intestine and inhibiting the absorption of important nutrients into the body. Celiac disease can be associated with other autoimmune disorders and, undiagnosed and untreated, it can lead to osteoporosis, infertility, neurological conditions and in rare cases, cancer.

Celiac disease affects at least one percent of Americans, or nearly three million people in the United States. By comparison, Alzheimer’s disease affects approximately two million people. It is possible to be diagnosed with celiac disease at any age. Family members are at the greatest risk and should be tested, even if they have no symptoms.

The only treatment for celiac disease is to follow a gluten-free diet--that is, to avoid all foods that contain wheat (including spelt, triticale, and kamut), rye, and barley.For most people, following this diet will stop symptoms, heal existing intestinal damage, and prevent further damage. People with celiac disease can eat a well-balanced diet which includes rice, and gluten-free bread and pasta made from rice flour.

Since there is no FDA regulation of the term “gluten-free,” learning to read food labels for hidden gluten is a must. Meeting with a registered dietician who is an expert in the gluten-free diet is recommended.

Only a few years ago, gluten-free products were found only in health food stores or specialty stores. People did not know what celiac disease was and could not even pronounce the word. Celiac Disease Foundation has played a major role in the dramatic increase in celiac awarenessby sponsoring conferences and gluten-free expos, and partnering with prominent celiac medical centers andmajor food manufacturers to promote the gluten-free lifestyle.

Since its inception in 1990, Celiac Disease Foundation has been at the forefront of celiac disease education, awareness, advocacy, and support services. Today, guided by its Medical Advisory Board of international experts, and supported by Chapters and Connections throughout the United States, CDF is meeting the growing public health challenge of increased diagnosis of celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity. With a range of vital programs and services for the public, patients, healthcare professionals and the food industries, CDF remains dedicated to improving the quality of life for those diagnosed, yet to be diagnosed, and their families.

For more information, visit CDF at www.celiac.org or call 818.716.1513.



Marilyn Geller, MSPH, is Chief Operating Officer of the Woodland Hills-based Celiac Disease Foundation.



Summertime Gluten-Free Pineapple Fried Rice

  1. Heat up olive oil and onions in a pan at low heat for 5 minutes.
  2. Add sliced mushrooms, zucchini, bell peppers and stir at medium heat until almost done (around 10 minutes).
  3. Optional: Flavor the vegetables with salt, pepper and red chili pepper.
  4. In separate pan, scramble 2 eggs.
  5. In original pan, add sliced pineapple and stir for 2 minutes.
  6. Add scrambled eggs and 2 cups rice in original pan on very low heat.
  7. Add 3 tablespoons gluten-free soy sauce and mix everything together. Let sit for 1 minute then stir again and repeat. Scoop into pineapple boat and serve.

Making the Pineapple Boat

  1. Turn it to find the most attractive and stable way for it to lie.
  2. Now slightly turn it and slice no more than 1/4 of the pineapple from the top using a serrated knife. Do not cut the leaves.
  3. Cut around the inside of the pineapple, following the "rim". Cut deeply, but not where your knife will cut through the other side.
  4. Cut the pineapple into cubes. Again, cut deeply but not enough to cut through the other side.
  5. Using preferably a sharp spoon, scoop out the pineapple cubes.
  6. After Fried Rice is done, scoop into the pineapple boat and serve.

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