September 13th is National Celiac Disease Awareness Day, meant to raise awareness for a condition much more common than you thought. Did you know that 1 in 100 people are affected by Celiac Disease worldwide? And becoming aware is crucial — the Celiac Disease Foundation reports that 2.5 million Americans are undiagnosed and at risk for long-term health complications.

What is Celiac Disease?

Celiac disease is a genetic autoimmune disease. This means the body mounts an immune response to a protein called gluten (found in wheat, barley, and rye) that attacks the small intestine. These attacks lead to damage on the villi, small fingerlike projections that line the small intestine that promote nutrient absorption. When the villi get damaged, nutrients cannot be absorbed properly into the body. 

What are symptoms of Celiac Disease?

ymptoms vary based on age group. Children are more likely to experience digestive problems such as vomiting, constipation, bloating, or chronic diarrhea. They can also experience developmental growth, failure to thrive, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), among other symptoms. Adults, on the other hand, are less likely to experience digestive issues and may encounter symptoms such as fatigue, bone or joint pain, missed menstrual cycles, infertility, depression or anxiety, etc.

What can I eat if I have Celiac Disease?

Naturally Gluten-Free Food Groups include, fruits and vegetables, meat and poultry, dairy, fish and seafood, beans and other legumes, and nuts.  Most grocery stores offer gluten-free sections to accommodate a number of manufactures who are now providing gluten-free alternatives.
Want to celebrate Celiac Awareness Day? Try your hand at some of these easy, gluten-free recipes:

Banana Coconut French Toast

Turkey Lettuce Wraps

Chicken Cheese Pasta

No Bake Bites

Want to know more about Celiac Disease? Do you have Celiac Disease and are looking for support? Contact your local EFMP office. You can also check out the Celiac Disease Foundation for info as well as more recipes!