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Celiac disease undetected in millions of Americans

Gluten-free may be a buzzword in the food and nutrition industry but it is a critical word for people who have celiac disease. A new study suggests that over 1 million Americans have the gastrointestinal disease and don't even know it.

Gluten-free may be a buzzword in the food and nutrition industry but it is a critical word for people who have celiac disease. A new study suggests that over 1 million Americans have the gastrointestinal disease and don't even know it.
Gluten-free may be a buzzword in the food and nutrition industry but it is a critical word for people who have celiac disease. A new study suggests that over 1 million Americans have the gastrointestinal disease and don't even know it.

What is celiac disease?

Blue Blood's actress Jennifer Esposito was one of the estimated 1.4 million Americans who are unaware of being celiac. Esposito told SheKnows that despite discussing her symptoms with a gastroenterologist for years, she'd never heard of celiac disease. The actress recalls, "I never heard of celiac disease before my diagnosis, which is frightening [considering] that I was with a gastroenterologist for five years where I was being treated for every other stomach disorder under the sun. He never once thought to mention celiac disease."

Celiac disease is a digestive disease characterized by the inability to digest wheat, rye, and barley due to the presence of the protein called gluten. People with celiac disease must avoid any foods that have these grains as well as any ingredients derived from these grains. They must essentially follow a gluten-free diet or they become very ill.

>>Syptoms of celiac disease

New research on celiac disease

The study, which appeared July 31 in the American Journal of Gastroenterology, estimates that there are 1.8 million Americans with celiac disease yet 78 percent of them don't even know they have it. According to Health Day News, Dr. Joseph Murray, co-author of the study and a gastroenterologist at the Mayo Clinic, said "This provides proof that the disease is common in the United States. If you detect one person for every five or six [who have it], we aren't doing a very good job detecting celiac disease."

Gluten-free diet followed by many who don't have celiac disease

The study, which included blood-test results and a national survey, also suggests that about 1.6 million people are following gluten-free diets even though they may not need it. "There are a lot of people on a gluten-free diet, and it's not clear what the medical need for that is," Murray said. "It is important if someone thinks they have celiac disease that they be tested first before they go on the diet." Interestingly, the study also indicates that celiac disease is common in Caucasians.

Looking for gluten-free recipes? Try these!

 
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