Many of you may have heard of gluten allergy or intolerance, but what about when you have to even give up on bread, pasta and desserts? What many just dismiss as food sensitivity or an anaphylactic reaction can well be an indication of a serious autoimmune condition known as celiac disease.

Celiac disease is not an allergy, but an autoimmune disease condition in which your small intestine is unable to digest gluten and absorb the nutrients from the food you eat. To break it down, the small intestine contains tiny finger-like projections called villi that break down the food and absorb nutrients from it. In celiac disease, the villi in the small intestine are flattened/damaged which results in a malfunction. This results in unpleasant episodes of diarrhea, bloating, abdominal pain and even anemia.

Want to know more about this disease? Here are some interesting facts that will keep you tuned.

1. Celiac Disease Is Hereditary
If any of your first relative and/or family member has it, chances are you’ll get it, too.

2. Gluten Is Everywhere, So Beware
It’s not just the food containing gluten that can make you sick. Gluten can invade your system through dietary supplements, your makeup and sometimes even your toothpaste.

3. Celiac Disease Has No Cure
The only way to not suffer from a celiac condition is to stay away from gluten for the rest of your life. If a person with this disease consumes even the smallest amount of gluten, it can make him or her very sick.

4. Celiac Disease Can Cause Nutritional Deficiencies
The inability of the small intestine to absorb nutrients can make you severely deficient in various essential nutrients such as iron, calcium, magnesium, vitamin B6, B12, D, folate and zinc. These nutritional deficiencies can trigger further health complications, including osteoporosis, anemia and hormonal complications.

5. Symptoms Can Show Up At Any Time
There is no real time-frame to track the onset of celiac disease—symptoms can show up any time between childhood to adulthood and include chronic fatigue, joint pain, headache, itchy rash, and stomach pain. Note that sometimes celiac disease doesn’t have any symptoms. (Related Article: What Type Of Gluten-Related Disorder Do You Have?)

6. A Blood Test Can Confirm Your Diagnosis
There is a blood test that can tell for certain if you have celiac disease. In case a family member has it, you should get yourself tested, too. Your doctor may recommend an endoscopy or biopsy, in addition to a blood test, to assess the damage in your intestine.

Tips To Keep Gluten Away From Your Tummy

1. Beware Of Cross Contamination: Even the tiniest bread crumb can give you the most annoying symptom of celiac disease. Keep your kitchen appliances separate for gluten-containing foods and those that are gluten-free. Use separate toasters or toaster bags. Avoid sharing flour shifters and use separate jams and spreads.

2. Check Food Labels: If you’re gluten intolerant, make it a habit to check for food labels each time you pick something from the supermarket. All packed food products are required to have an allergen label under the FDA law that can help you determine if the product contains any gluten.

3. Check Your Medicines & Makeup: Are you 100 percent sure that your medicines and makeup are completely gluten-free? While you may look for cosmetic products that are free from paraben and other harmful chemicals, seldom do you check for any traces of gluten. Talk to your physician and dermatologist to minimize your risk.

4. Load On Other Healthy Grains: It’s normal to go through an initial grieving period of having to give up on your favorite wheat-based products, but you can turn the situation around by stocking up on more healthy grains such as brown rice, quinoa and corn.

Read More:
What Type Of Gluten-Related Disorder Do You Have?
Is The Gluten-Free Diet Right For You?
Gluten-Free Diet: 6 Great Wheat-Flour Substitutes For Baking
Parental Q&A: Top 5 Great Gluten-Free Products For Kids