May: The Month of Flowers and Celiac Awareness

May might be the month of rejuvenating flowers after April’s showers, but it is also National Celiac Awareness Month.  You may feel like there's a glut of gluten information out there these days, but do you really know the skinny on celiac symptoms?

Statistics vary but, according to the Mayo Clinic, nearly two million people in the United States have celiac disease and  1.4 million of them don't even know it! .  On the other hand, many people are on a gluten-free diet with no diagnosis of the disease. 

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So, what is the illness, exactly? Celiac disease  is an inherited autoimmune disorder that impacts the digestive system. Patients suffer an intolerance to the protein gluten, found in wheat, barley and rye. Symptoms can range from diarrhea to weight loss, intestinal pain, malnutrition and mal-absorption of nutrients.  In order to protect the small intestine and prevent symptoms,  Nutritionist Keri Glassman says people with celiac disease must abide by a gluten-free diet. Glassman explains that while there are many gluten-free foods that celiac sufferers can eat, living with a gluten-free diet often means taking out common sources of fiber like cereals and whole wheat bread. This means those with celiac disease will need to look for other ways to consume adequate amounts of fiber.

“People suffering with celiac disease are often very unaware of the nutrient makeup and ingredients in the foods they’re eating, and for that reason are very health conscious. Having celiac disease makes it even more important to pay attention to your digestive health including getting adequate fiber on a daily basis.”  She suggests “supplementing a gluten-free diet with an all-natural, gluten free psyllium fiber supplement  is a great way to ensure you’re getting the daily fiber that’s needed to stay healthy.”

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According to Glassman, there are numerous health benefits that fiber provides including weight management and promoting digestive health. Additionally, fiber helps protect the heart by lowering blood cholesterol and can help manage blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends 25 grams of fiber per day for women and 38 grams of fiber per day for men in order to experience fiber’s health benefits.

It is important to understand celiac disease, for the benefit of your health and for those who might have a gluten sensitive condition that you know. It is time to help spread awareness and talk about this condition. 

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About Keri Glassman, MS, RD, CDN

Nationally recognized nutrition expert and published author Keri Glassman, MS, RD, CDN is the founder and president of Keri Glassman, Nutritious Life, a nutrition practice based in New York City. For years Keri has been a leader in advancing a "whole person" approach to health and wellness.  She has dedicated her career to creating services and promoting education through her "Nutritious Life" brand. Learn more about Keri Glassman at www.NutritiousLife.com.

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