Let’s Talk Food: Celiac disease on the rise


I had the privilege of being contacted by Hilo High School senior Bailey Honda who wrote about celiac disease for his senior project. His interest in this disease came about from his cousin.

“(She) always had problems with being severely lactose intolerant. Over the years, she has gone to many doctors and has seen many specialists. Finally at age of 12, they discovered the problem, celiac disease. Thankfully, they figured it out and gave her the proper diagnosis. She is now able to ingest milk and ice cream without any problem and is slowly growing into the height she is supposed to be. Without this diagnosis, her symptoms could have gotten much worse.”

According to Bailey’s paper, “Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease caused by the overreaction of the body to gluten consumption. Gluten, a protein in wheat, barley, and rye, is the trigger to the immune response in the intestine. The response causes inflammation, which damages the lining of the small intestine. The inflammation in the small intestine specifically kills the villi, which absorbs all the nutrients. The prevention of absorbing nutrients by the villi can cause many complications for one’s entire body and well-being (celiac disease).”

Symptoms include “diarrhea, weight loss, fatigue, constipations, headaches, poor weight gain, and bloating. Untreated, celiac disease can lead to malnutrition, loss of calcium and bone density, infertility/miscarriage, and lactose intolerance. The life threatening complications could lead to osteoporosis, thyroid disease, cancer, and other autoimmune diseases. Celiac disease itself may not be deadly, but the complications and risks can be. This disease is also related and associated with other diseases. Patients with liver disease, Sjogrens’s disease, William’s disease, Turner syndrome, Type 1 diabetes, and thyroid disease all have a greater chance of developing of having Celiac disease.”

If you are having some of the symptoms, detection is done through blood tests. “Doctors must test for certain levels of antibodies in the blood to indicate the disease. Immunoglobulin A (IgA) anti-tissue transglutaminase (TTG) antibody is the preferred test for detection of celiac disease individuals over the age of two years.

“This test should be taken while on a gluten-rich diet. This helps doctors interpret the results of the test.” If these tests come out positive, the doctor may then order an endoscopy for the patient.

Are you thinking you need to get tested? Are you one of every 100 Americans who has celiac disease? Do you have the symptoms listed? Or perhaps you have unexplained symptoms that include “iron deficiency anemia, vitamin B12 deficiency, short stature, delayed puberty, recurrent fetal loss, low birth weight infants, recurrent migraine headaches, and nonhereditary cerebellar ataxia. The third group consists of patients with type 1 diabetes mellitus and first-degree relatives of individuals with celiac disease if they have symptoms, signs or laboratory evidence of the disease.”

According to Bailey’s paper, once you have been diagnosed with celiac disease, your diet should be absent of wheat, barley and rye. Home remedies such as “aloe vera can be taken to help the body by calming the mucus membranes of the gastrointestinal tract. Another herb that can be taken is licorice root. This root acts as a steroid to soothe the mucus membrane but it does not come with the toxicity and bad side effect. Vitamin supplements are also a good idea. Sometimes the body needs a little help getting all the nutrients back to its proper levels. Consuming extra vitamins will help the body back to normal faster.”

Bailey would really like to start a project for the community regarding celiac disease and with the community’s support, I can see that he will surely get this off the ground. With his interest in biology and compassion for others, I would love to see him become a doctor, caring for others!

Small Bites:

Gluten is the protein found in wheat and many grains, so eating bread, pasta made from wheat, barley and including “mugi-cha” or barley tea, and many cereals that include oats.

If you have someone in your family who is gluten intolerant or has celiac disease, you can either purchase Bob Mill’s Gluten Free Flour or make your own gluten-free flour.

Gluten-Free Flour

Makes 4 pounds

In a large mixing bowl, add and mixt well together:

6 cups white rice flour

2 cups tapioca flour

1 1/2 cups potato starch

2 tablespoons xanthum gum

1 tablespoons salt

Store in airtight container or refrigerate for up to one year.

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Read labels as even many soy sauces contain wheat. Organic gluten-free tamari does not, but regular tamari could have wheat.

Fruits and vegetables are gluten-free. Fresh meat, poultry and fish are also gluten free, but many hams, bacon, sausages and lunch meats may contain gluten, so read labels.

Tapioca, brown rice, white rice flours, amaranth, quinoa are all gluten free, which makes mochi a gluten-free food.

Potatoes, sweet potatoes, taro are gluten-free. Paiai and poi are gluten free.

I have become very aware of gluten intolerance through our traveling friend, Lorna. When we travel, we are always asking about the restaurant’s gluten-free menus. Many European restaurants and many restaurants around the United States are now addressing this problem. In Italy, Lorna had some of the best gluten-free corn pasta which she then brought back to serve at Kilauea Lodge. I have two sons who seem to also have a gluten intolerance problem and have been eliminating gluten from their diet and noticed that their tummy aches and rashes are absent when they stop eating gluten.

On a Personal Note:

I got several calls last Monday when an Audrey Wilson was listed with an arrest warrant. It is not me, as those who know me, like my sister and cousin who called me Monday morning, know that I am not 71 years old.

Please feel free to email me at wilson.audrey@hawaiiantel.net if you have a question. Bon appetit until next week.

 

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