Frequently Asked Questions About Celiac Disease & Living Gluten Free
Gluten Free Journey strives to provide helpful information for celiac disease, those affected by living gluten free, and within the field of celiac disease.
Below we have gathered many of the frequently asked questions about celiac disease and living gluten free, plus some helpful answers along the way.
Don’t forget to check out our latest gluten free recipes, Celiac Disease resources and our online Gluten Free Shop which continues to offer more gluten free treats, accessories, kitchen equipment and more!
Frequently Asked Questions
Questions About Celiac Disease
Celiac disease is a serious, genetic autoimmune disease in which the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine.
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. It is primarily made up of two other proteins—gliadin and glutenin.
While the exact cause is currently unknown, experts generally agree there are three things required to trigger celiac disease:
- genetic predisposition
- an overly responsive immune system
- and environmental triggers
Environmental triggers can include when—and how much—gluten is introduced into the diet, traumatic/stressful events, and other factors. More research is needed to determine how big of a role environmental factors play in triggering celiac disease.
A simple blood test is the first step in diagnosing celiac disease.
A positive blood test is then followed by an endoscopic biopsy to confirm the diagnosis.
People with celiac disease who eat gluten have higher than normal levels of certain antibodies in their blood. These antibodies are produced by the immune system because it views gluten (the proteins found in wheat, rye and barley) as a threat.
Celiac disease affects everyone differently.
Over 200 symptoms related to celiac disease have been identified.
Symptoms may occur in the digestive system or in other parts of the body.
In classical celiac disease, patients have signs and symptoms of malabsorption, including diarrhea, steatorrhea (pale, foul-smelling, fatty stools), and weight loss or growth failure in children.
In non-classical celiac disease, patients may have mild gastrointestinal symptoms without clear signs of malabsorption or may have seemingly unrelated symptoms, such as anemia, difficulty losing weight, fatigue, and chronic migraine.
In asymptomatic celiac disease, patients test positive for celiac disease, but do not complain of any symptoms.
Sorry, but the answer is no.
Even if symptoms don’t appear, the ingestion of gluten still damages the intestines and also increases your risk for various complications like cancers and osteoporosis.
It really depends on who you ask this too. We do not recommend the use of shampoos & lotions that contain gluten if you have Celiac Disease.
Gluten must be ingested for it to be cause for concern for someone with celiac disease or dermatitis herpetiformis according to most Celiac Disease Foundations. However, we still recommend you avoid any products that have the potential to be ingested.
Dermatitis herpetiformis (DH), also known as Duhring’s Disease, is a form of celiac disease that results in itchy, blistering skin rashes.
Patients with DH almost always have the same gluten-dependent intestinal damage as celiac disease patients and they must also follow a strict gluten free diet.
The intestines are always somewhat “leaky” because they are always absorbing nutrients. A leaky gut, while not a medical term, typically refers to increased intestinal permeability, which can be caused by inflammation of the gut due to celiac disease.
Questions About Living Gluten Free
A gluten-free diet does not necessarily equal weight loss and can result in certain nutrient deficiencies.
A gluten-free diet is only recommended for those with celiac disease or other gluten-related disorders.
If you think gluten is a problem for you, you should consult your doctor as soon as possible to find a diagnosis for you before starting a gluten-free diet.
Once on a gluten-free diet, it becomes more difficult to diagnose or rule out Celiac Disease.
Unfortunately there are no supplements or medications which “neutralize” or “de-activate” gluten.
Research is going on in the scientific community on substances that may make it less problematic to consume very small amounts of gluten, such as what might be ingested due to cross-contamination.
A gluten-free diet is currently the only treatment for gluten-related disorders.
If you use a shared kitchen or eating space at home, work or school, you could inadvertently be ingesting gluten.
Remember, even a crumb of gluten-containing bread can be enough to cause problems for people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.
Consider washing table tops with soap and water, or putting a barrier (e.g. paper towel) between your food container and the table top to avoid picking up hard-to-see crumbs.
Don’t forget about washing your hands with soap and water before preparing and eating any food. This will help you stay gluten free, and healthy.
Many restaurants now offer gluten free options, which is exciting for those of us in the gluten-free community.
Unfortunately, not all staff in those restaurants are necessarily aware of the importance of gluten free ingredients and strict avoidance of cross-contact during food preparation.
Furthermore, some restaurants offering “gluten free” menu options may not have necessary procedures set up to allow for reliable production of gluten free items.
When possible, do some research in advance:
- call or visit the restaurant during a morning or afternoon when restaurants tend to be less busy.
- ask how gluten free items are prepared and what procedures are in place to avoid cross-contact between foods that contain gluten and those intended to be gluten-free.
Make an informed decision as to whether or not you feel comfortable dining in the establishment, your health needs you too.
Most natural flavours are safely gluten free, but some caution is called for. If you see “natural flavours” in the ingredient list of a product that is not labeled or certified gluten free, it could contain malt extract, so should be avoided unless it can be confirmed that this is not the case.
If a natural flavour contained wheat, it would have to say so (in FDA-regulated products).
Wheat grass is a wheat product, but it is the stem of the plant. If wheat grass is harvested before the flower head builds, it is just carbohydrate and is gluten free.
However, when the plant starts to mature, it’s a problem. It is best to avoid wheat grass unless you are certain of its gluten free status.