Food for Life – Celiac disease

Of all the living organisms that God has created, none rank in the scale of value with him anywhere near to man. And if human beings would become intelligent in regard to their own bodies, and understand their relation to life and health, and regulate their habits of eating, of dressing, of working and resting, their lives would be prolonged in health and happiness.” The Health Reformer, June 1, 1873.

This is especially true of people who have a gluten intolerance or Celiac disease. “Better awareness of ‘non-classical’ disease and improved screening tests suggest that the prevalence of celiac disease is underestimated in most populations. It is surprisingly common (1 of 250 people in the United States are positive for celiac disease antibody), where overt disease in the United States is uncommon.” C. Robert Dahl, M.D., “Celiac Disease: The Great Mimic,” Presentation at the 23rd Annual CSA Conference, September 2000, Lifeline, Spring 2001.

Celiac disease may present in many varied ways and relate to the damage done to the lining of the intestine. Symptoms can include: recurring abdominal pain and bloating, chronic diarrhea, excessive rectal gas, weight loss, mouth sores, fatigue, iron deficiency anemia, swelling, fluid in the abdomen, behavior changes, mood disorders, growth retardation, or with few or no apparent symptoms at all. It has been noted that the longer the person is exposed to gluten, the greater the risk of other autoimmunity developing in other organ systems.

The treatment is related to diet, and involves a diet as close to an absolute gluten-free diet that can be achieved for life. Another important treatment is initial avoidance of dairy products and replacement of nutritional deficiencies that may result from a diseased intestine. Most people will see improvement within two weeks after removal of gluten from the diet. Others may take longer. Gluten is found in wheat, barley, rye, and, to a lesser extent, oats.

If you suffer from any of the symptoms mentioned and have just endured them, you might try putting yourself on a gluten free diet, and definitely consult your health care professional for diagnosis of your symptoms. This year at camp meeting a gluten free alternative was available at each meal. Following are some of the gluten free options that were provided. Please note that these recipes may be enjoyed by the entire family.