Celiac disease, gluten intolerance and what they mean

Gluten-free brownies. Photo by johnheppolette used under Creative Commons license.

By Macy Sliman, Staff writer

No wheat. No barley. No. rye.

For those with celiac disease, food options are limited. Brianne Canino is a student at SNU who has had Celiac Disease for three and a half years.

She has been quite active in raising awareness with the cafeteria staff about the disease and how they can better help the other students with this allergy.

The cafeteria is attempting to help these people who can’t maintain the same diet as those without an allergy to wheat and wheat products.

“The cafeteria has been really trying to be more aware of our allergy and the staff has really put forth an effort to make sure we have some choices when in eating there. Of course with everything, there is room for growth and we are working toward a better menu for gluten-free students,” Canino said. 

While aware of the name “celiac disease” and its annoying little brother, gluten intolerance, people are still somewhat unknowledgeable as to what it actually is.

According to the Mayo Clinic’s website, celiac disease is a digestive condition triggered by consumption of the protein gluten, which is primarily found in bread, pasta, cookies, pizza crust and many other foods containing wheat, barley or rye.

People with celiac disease who eat foods containing gluten experience an immune reaction in their small intestines, causing damage to the inner surface of the small intestine and an inability to absorb certain nutrients.

Doctors are unsure what exactly causes this disease, but it does seem to be carried genetically for most families. The less easily diagnosed allergy, gluten intolerancem is also becoming more prevalent. It is not as dangerous as celiac but it is still not very well known. There is very little treatment for either, except a special diet that excludes all wheat products and gluten.

The people who have this disease or a slight allergy do not have any typical signs or symptoms. However, those with celiac or gluten allergy can experience obvious symptoms like vomiting, bloating, and abdominal pain.

Some less obvious signs are anemia, irritability or depression, fatigue, upset stomach, joint pain, muscle cramps, skin rash, mouth sores, dental or bone damage, and sometimes tingling in legs and feet.

It seems awareness of celiac disease and gluten intolerance are becoming more and more prevalent.

Interested individuals can find out more about celiac disease at the Mayo Clinic’s website, mayoclinic.com/health/celiacedisease.