There appears to be great confusion about the general misconception of what celiac (coeliac) disease actually is. twice last month, “gluten-free” made news headlines, but, sadly, for the wrong reasons.
The first incident was when Joy Behar, from ‘The View’, rudely interrupted an interview on TV, with her ignorant remark about eating ‘gluten free’. The second, was when Gluten Dude, via his blog, brought awareness to the fact that a NASCAR super bowl advertisement, was mocking those living ‘gluten free’.
You can check out Gluten Dude’s blog here, if you haven’t already:
Soooo, just to clarify – the difference between being a person who has celiac disease, and HAS to eat a life without gluten; and those who choose to follow a gluten-free ‘fad diet’ are COMPLETELY different.
The definition of Celiac Disease, as stated on the world wide web, by these sources is:
Coeliac disease (celiac disease in the United States and often celiac sprue) is an autoimmune disorder of the small intestine that occurs in genetically predisposed people of all ages from middle infancy onward. Symptoms include pain and discomfort in the digestive tract, chronic constipation and diarrhoea, failure to thrive (in children), anaemia and fatigue, but these may be absent, and symptoms in other organ systems have been described.
2. Merriam-Webster Dictionary
Digestive disorder in which people cannot tolerate gluten, a protein constituent of wheat, barley, malt, and rye flours. In celiac disease, gluten generates an immune response that damages the mucous lining of the small intestine; it is believed that a deficiency of gluten-digesting enzymes may underlie the disease. Poor nutrient absorption causes foul, bulky, fatty stools; malnutrition; stunting of growth; and anemia similar to pernicious anemia.
Celiac disease is a chronic small intestinal immune-mediated enteropathy precipitated by exposure to dietary gluten in genetically predisposed individuals. Celiac disease is triggered by the ingestion of gluten (definition below), the protein component of wheat, rye, barley, but not oats. Such exposure results in a variable degree of intestinal damage.
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder affecting the small intestine. It causes the body to attack the villi (small protrusions that sweep food through the intestines) upon ingestion of food containing glutenin or gliadin proteins, which are found in wheat, rye, and barley.
Celiac disease is often referred to as a gluten allergy. This does not reflect current understanding of the disorder, as the body attacks not the perceived allergen but rather itself. Nonetheless, the treatment is the same as for a gluten allergy: strict abstinence from all foods containing gluten.
A digestive disease that is caused by an immune response to a protein called gluten, which is found in wheat, rye, barley, and oats. Celiac disease damages the lining of the small intestine and interferes with the absorption of nutrients from food. A person with celiac disease may become malnourished no matter how much food is consumed.
Now, for those of you who are still unsure about the difference between living with celiac disease, and those, who by choice, follow a ‘gluten-free diet’, this may explain it better.
I must stress, that a gluten-free ‘FAD’ diet does NOT equal celiac disease / living a gluten-free life due to a serious health condition. A disease and a lifestyle choice are of course, totally different.
According to Wikipedia, a ‘fad’ diet is:
A food fadism is an eating regime that focuses on a particular food or food group.
“Food fad” is a term originally used to describe simple, catchy diets that often focused on a single element such as cabbage, grapefruit or cottage cheese. In 1974, the term was defined as three categories of food fads.
A particular food or food group is exaggerated and purported to cure specific diseases.
Foods are eliminated from an individual’s diet because they are viewed as harmful.
An emphasis is placed on eating certain foods to express a particular lifestyle.
Lastly, I also researched the gluten-free ‘fad’ diets, which many people, including some popular celebrities, are confusing with a serious disease.
Gluten-free fad diets are popular and endorsed by celebrities such as Miley Cyrus. The book Wheat Belly which refers to wheat as a “chronic poison” became a New York Times bestseller within a month of publication in 2011. People buy gluten-free food “because they think it will help them lose weight, because they seem to feel better or because they mistakenly believe they are sensitive to gluten.” However the gluten-free diet is not recommended as a means to eat healthier or to lose weight. Neither should it be undertaken to diagnose one’s own symptoms, because tests for celiac disease are reliable only if the patient has been consuming gluten.
Yes, that’s it – only one source.
The other articles I researched, I decided not to post. Not because I didn’t agree with their viewpoints, but because, rather than being informative, they were written by journalists who had ‘an assignment to do’, and I felt it unnecessary to take up more blog space, with drivel and articles which added no actual value (in my opinion), to my post. If you really want to read more, just google it.
To sum it up – myself, and others in the Celiac community, eat a gluten-free diet out of necessity. We do not do it to make the chef at a restaurant’s life difficult. We do not do it to lose weight. We do not do it to gain popularity. It is a serious disease, and we MUST eat a diet free of gluten. It is great that there is generally more awareness of our disease, and technology has come a long way in twenty years.
I hope that this gives you more understanding on celiac disease, and why living gluten-free is so important in our lives.
Time to take a poll, if you don’t mind.