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Family Central: Going Gluten-Free

Celiac disease, gluten intolerance, gluten-free foods – only a few years ago, most people had probably never heard of most of those terms.

But today, more and more families are affected by gluten intolerance, a disorder marked by the inability to properly digest certain types of wheat and other grains. As many as 3 million Americans suffer from this lifelong illness – meaning that for them and their family members, just making dinner can be a complex exercise.

If you or someone in your family fall into this category, let us help: On Saturday, January 14, our pharmacy department will lead a workshop on going gluten-free.

We’ll load you up with practical, usable information on managing diet for those who cannot tolerate gluten.

Gluten intolerance or celiac disease is a genetic autoimmune disorder that affects the intestine.  The main problem caused by celiac disease is damage to the intestine in response to the ingestion of gluten, a protein found in barley, rye, and different types of wheat.

Unfortunately, even though awareness of celiac disease has greatly increased over the last decade, the average person with celiac disease is not accurately diagnosed for almost a decade.  Women are two to three times more likely than men to have celiac disease; however, men have more severe manifestations.

Typical symptoms include abdominal distention, pain, and diarrhea. These symptoms result from malabsorption of nutrients by a damaged intestine.  Iron deficiency anemia and osteoporosis and other atypical symptoms may occur due to the nutrient malabsorption.

The only treatment for celiac disease is lifelong avoidance of ingesting gluten.  Clinical improvement can be seen within days or weeks of starting a gluten-free diet and more than 90% of people will respond to complete dietary restriction.

One of the main goals of treating individuals with celiac disease is to help them follow a healthy, interesting, and practical gluten-free diet. But the problem there? Gluten is often hidden in food and even products like medicines and lip balms, meaning you must be hyper-aware of ingredients that contain it.

The good news is that over the past several years, the food industry has introduced a number of delicious, healthy products for people who cannot tolerate gluten – and we carry dozens at FRESH. Having celiac disease no longer means a life without the joys of bread or pasta!

There are now lots of good pastas, breads, cereals, snacks, pizzas, frozen meals, and other foods that are completely gluten-free, and safe for those with celiac disease.

At our workshop January 14 starting at 2 p.m., you’ll learn about many of these products. We will also share many facts you need to safely manage this disorder, including:

  • Six fundamentals of celiac disease management
  • Identifying gluten containing foods
  • Discussing flours and grains that are gluten free
  • Gluten in medications
  • How much gluten is too much?
  • Treating vitamin and mineral deficiencies
  • When drug therapy is useful