The month of May is celiac disease awareness month. Hitaf Zwein, nutritionist and licensed dietitian, joined our Wellness Wednesday on Instagram Live on May 27th, 2021 to talk about this disease and explain everything you need to know. 

All the questions asked during the Live session are answered below. Let’s have a look!

Q: What is celiac disease?

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that’s triggered when you eat gluten. When someone with celiac disease eats something with gluten, their body overreacts to the protein and damages their villi, small finger-like projections found along the wall of their small intestine.

Q: What is gluten?

Gluten is a protein in wheat, barley, rye, and other grains. It’s what makes dough elastic and gives bread its chewy texture. Gluten is sneaky and can be found in medicine, additives, stabilizers, preservatives, and supplements.

Q: How to know if you have celiac disease?

You need to consult your gastroenterologist (in a less fancy word: your stomach doctor). They can help you get tested and deal with the results appropriately. 

Just like any other disease, celiac has silent symptoms and extreme ones. Since celiac is not the same as a gluten allergy, here’s a list combining the most recurrent symptoms witnessed in patients:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Anemia
  • Bloating or a feeling of fullness
  • Bone or joint pain
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Gas
  • Heartburn
  • Itchy, blistery rash (doctors call this dermatitis herpetiformis)
  • Headaches or fatigue
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Nausea
  • Nervous system injury, including numb or tingling hands or feet, balance problems, or changes in awareness
  • Poop that’s pale and smells especially bad, or floats (steatorrhea)
  • Weight loss

Beware that celiac disease is slightly more common in women than in men. It affects fertility and periods in women. It may lead to PCOS (Polycystic ovary syndrome) infertility and recurrent miscarriages in women trying to get pregnant.

Celiac disease affects the person’s mental health also by causing depression and anxiety. In children, it stunts their growth because they are not getting the right amount of nutrients to grow.

Q: How to treat celiac disease?

Currently, the only treatment for celiac disease is lifelong adherence to a strict gluten-free diet. People living gluten-free must avoid foods with wheat, rye, and barley, such as bread and beer. Ingesting small amounts of gluten, like crumbs from a cutting board or toaster, can trigger small intestine damage. 

Get tested first. Then you can consult a dietitian and nutritionist to assist you by recommending the most nutritious gluten-free food available. Your dietitian can help you maximize the value of the food you eat so you can live a full life without consuming gluten at all.

Q: What can a celiac person eat?

Safe foods for celiac patients are:

  • Fruits & vegetables
  • Meat & poultry
  • Fish & seafood
  • Beans & nuts
  • Quinoa, corn, potato, millet & buckwheat
  • Certified gluten-free products

In order to avoid triggering an episode, make sure anything you eat is certified “gluten-free”. Even then, make sure of the quantity of gluten in the product. It cannot contain more than 20 parts per million of gluten, which is the safe threshold of gluten consumption for people with celiac disease.

Check the Gluten-Free section below at Mint Basil Market for all the delicious snacks and treats you can dream of certified gluten-free!

If you’re interested in more nutrition advice, check out Hitaf’s Instagram page @hitafsdietclinic!

That’s all folks! Thank you for joining us for this session and thank you to Hitaf Zwein for this valuable information. Stay tuned for more Wellness Wednesdays to come.

If you have any questions or topic suggestions, feel free to reach out to the Mint Basil Market team.

May 28, 2021 — Mint Basil Team

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