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Friday, May 1, 2015
May is Celiac Awareness Month!
Celiac Awareness Month is an event held throughout the United States each May and is supported by the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (and other relevant organizations).
This event raises awareness about celiac disease, and highlights the work of the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) which provides support for those affected. The NFCA, in collaboration with scientists and other organizations, also supports research into celiac disease.
What Is Celiac Disease?
Celiac disease is a genetic autoimmune disease which damages the small intestine. The small intestine is part of the gut which digests & absorbs nutrients from food. When the small intestine is damaged, the rate of nutrient absorption from food is reduced. Celiac disease can affect people in many different ways and symptoms vary in severity. Due to the large number of possible symptoms, there are 3 recognized types of celiac disease.
In many cases, where there are no noticeable symptoms, a person has 'silent coeliac disease'.
People with 'minor celiac disease' have minor symptoms. These can include a wide range of symptoms such as indigestion, bloating, weight loss, and mild abdominal pain.
People with 'major celiac disease' have severe symptoms which can be of great discomfort. These may include 'minor celiac disease' symptoms which are more severe, and other symptoms such as stomach cramps, diarrhea and muscle spasms.
People with celiac disease are sensitive to gluten which triggers these symptoms. Gluten is a protein found in grains such as barley, wheat and rye. Consumption of gluten can affect the whole body.
Celiac Awareness Month also raises awareness about sensitivity to gluten.
Treatment for celiac disease and gluten intolerance is straight forward; those affected are advised to avoid foods which contains gluten. This awareness event helps educate and inform the public about gluten free foods. However, it is not always easy to determine if a food item is gluten free; this event also encourages appropriate labeling on food items.