About Celiac Disease

What is Celiac Disease?
  • Celiac disease is a an autoimmune disorder that causes damage to the small intestine, which can lead to malabsorption of nutrients. A genetic intolerance to gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley, triggers this destructive reaction of the immune system. When people with celiac disease eat foods or use products containing gluten, their immune system responds by damaging or destroying villi—the tiny, fingerlike protrusions lining the small intestine. Villi normally allow nutrients from food to be absorbed through the walls of the small intestine into the bloodstream. Without healthy villi, a person becomes malnourished, no matter how much food one eats. Common resulting complications of celiac disease in adults include reduced bone density (osteopenia and osteoporosis), anemia, increased risk of other autoimmune disorders and malignancies, infertility and neurological problems
Celiac Disease Symptoms Checklist 
Recent studies from Columbia University have indicated that it takes an average of 11 years from onset of symptoms to diagnosis in the U.S. and many physicians are consulted prior to diagnosis.

How common is celiac disease?
  • Originally considered a rare disease of childhood, celiac disease is now recognized as a common condition that may be diagnosed at any age. Recent studies have revealed an estimated average worldwide prevalence of 1 in 266 and a prevalence of 1 in 133 in the United States. This establishes celiac disease as one of the most common genetically based diseases that physicians will encounter. Because of lack of awareness, celiac disease is still vastly under diagnosed in the U.S. The disease has been reported in many countries from around the world including the Middle East with reports from Iran, from North Africa (Libya), from most countries in South America, from Australia and south Asia.
  • See http://www.celiacdiseasecenter.columbia.edu/A_Patients/A02-FAQ.htm for more information.
What are the symptoms of celiac disease?
  • The vast majority of individuals with celiac disease have little in the way of gastrointestinal symptoms or have symptoms that may receive a diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome. While the classical symptoms include diarrhea, weight loss and edema, other patients may present with constipation, anemia, bone pain or bone loss, chronic fatigue, skin problems, abnormal liver chemistries, dental enamel defects and neurological symptoms such as peripheral neuropathy, ataxia or seizures. Some patients with celiac disease are truly asymptomatic or have symptoms related to an associated autoimmune problem.
  • See http://www.celiacdiseasecenter.columbia.edu/A_Patients/A02-FAQ.htm.
Questions and Answers about Celiac Disease from the Celiac Disease Center at Colombia University
The Restaurant Project
  • The Gluten-Free Restaurant Awareness Program (TM) is a comprehensive initiative designed and developed by the Westchester Celiac Sprue Support Group. It is a professional level Program specifically designed to give participating restaurants the information and support they need to be able to prepare and serve gluten-free meals. The program concept, extensive materials and web site took over a year to research and develop. For more information, see http://www.glutenfreerestaurants.org/
  • Miami Needs Restaurants to STEP UP!!  http://www.glutenfreerestaurants.org/zip_search.php 
Great Resources: