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Road To Health | Celiac Disease

By: Ann Marie Coppen

Anne Marie Coppen

PhD, FNP, Nurse Practitioner

For a personal response to your health question, Ask Ann Marie at askannmarie@lindora.com. Selected questions will be featured in future columns.

Related Articles

celiac disease, trucker health

I have been told that I have Celiac Disease. What does this mean and what can I eat?

Experts estimate that approximately 1% of Americans have Celiac Disease. Celiac Disease is a condition where the lining of the small intestine is damaged by an abnormal immune response to gluten. This can result in preventing important nutrients from being absorbed.

Symptoms can present as the following:

  • Stomach upset
  • Bloating
  • Cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Pain
  • Anemia
  • Malnutrition

However, not all individuals who have Celiac Disease experience symptoms, which may be why only 5% to 10 % of individuals with Celiac Disease are diagnosed in the U.S. The only way to determine if you have Celiac Disease is by taking a blood test. If certain antibodies are detected then a biopsy can confirm Celiac Disease if there is inflammation in the lining of the small intestine.

Gluten is a protein found in barley, rye, and wheat. Avoid foods containing these ingredients. When avoiding wheat, you should include emmer, spelt, wheat starch, wheat bran, wheat germ, cracked wheat and hydrolyzed wheat protein. In addition, you would want to avoid triticale (a cross between wheat and rye).

Other wheat products include:

  • bromated flour
  • farina
  • graham flour
  • enriched flour
  • semolina
  • white flour
  • plain flour
  • self-rising flour
  • beer or ale

Processed foods that may contain wheat, barley or rye include:

  • French fries
  • Gravy
  • Soups
  • Soy sauce
  • Self-basting turkey
  • Seasoned tortilla chips
  • Chips/potato chips
  • Sausage
  • Cold cuts
  • Salami
  • Hot dogs

Quinoa, millet, and amaranth are whole grains that do not contain gluten. Other foods that are gluten free include:

  • Fresh eggs
  • Fresh poultry, fish, and meat
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Most dairy products
  • Beans, seeds, and nuts (unprocessed)
  • Tofu
  • Non-fat yogurt
  • Non-fat cheese

What is the difference between gluten sensitivity and Celiac Disease?

Gluten sensitivity is less severe than Celiac Disease. If the test for Celiac Disease results negative but the person cannot tolerate gluten and may experience symptoms similar to Celiac Disease, this person may be gluten sensitive. A person who is gluten sensitive but is not positive for Celiac Disease may not experience the extent of damage to the intestines.

In addition to the symptoms identified above, the gluten sensitive person may experience fatigue and headache. Always consult with your doctor if you experience any of the symptoms identified.

Can you tell me about diverticulitis?

The walls of our colon can develop pouches known as diverticula. When diverticula become inflamed, this is known as colonic diverticulosis. The cause is yet unknown as to what prompts diverticulosis. The thought is that lack in fiber may contribute to diverticulosis, because it causes the colon to work harder to push stool forward. Having diverticulosis is very common, and most people never know they have it. Half of all people older than 60 years of age have diverticula present in their colon but only 10-25% end up having diverticulitis.

Symptoms of diverticulitis may include:

  • Bloating
  • Fever
  • Pain in the abdominal area
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Lack of appetite
  • Blood in your stool

If you experience any of these symptoms, please contact your doctor. Based on your symptoms and examination, your doctor may request blood work (complete blood count), a CT scan, or an X ray.

Factors that can increase the odds of developing diverticulitis include:

  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Age
  • Lack of Exercise
  • Low fiber diet

To decrease the odds of developing Diverticulitis it is recommended that you:

  • Eat high fiber foods like vegetables, fruits and whole grains
  • Lose weight
  • Stop smoking
  • Exercise more


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