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Celiac Disease vs. Gluten Sensitivity: What's the Difference?

Posted by itsupportgroup
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on Monday, 11 April 2016 in Health & Nutrition

CeliacBlogPasta, bread, cookies, cake. These are all foods that we may not think twice about eating, except maybe in terms of calories.   But for people suffering from celiac disease or gluten intolerance, eating them can result in more than just weight gain.  


Celiac disease (CD) is a condition in which people can’t tolerate gluten, a protein found in foods made from wheat, barley, rye and crossbreads. Reactions may or may not occur right after someone has eaten food containing gluten.   There may be unexplained weight loss or weight gain. If CD is left untreated, it can eventually lead to liver disease and cancers of the intestine. Some people with CD don’t have any symptoms, but will still show damage to their small intestine.  


It is estimated that 97% of people with CD do not know they have it. Some people have some symptoms similar to those of CD but do not have the typical immune reaction or intestinal damage of CD. They are considered to begluten sensitive. Gluten sensitivity is an adverse reaction to gluten which is not autoimmune, though many suffer similar symptoms as with CD.


Does any of this sound like you or your loved ones? If so, what can you do about it? First, see your doctor and get yourself tested to see if you are gluten sensitive or have celiac disease. Then, evaluate your diet and remove all gluten products, such as breads, doughs, pasta and other flour-based items. Luckily, there are many alternative solutions that help someone with CD not feel deprived.


A word of caution: a gluten-free diet—while often healthy—will not necessarily result in weight loss.   In fact, people may gain weight on a gluten-free diet, since many gluten-free products are higher in fat and calories than their non gluten-free counterparts. Fat and sugar are often added to these products to add flavor and texture. Gluten-free foods are also usually lower in fiber, so you won’t feel full as long. Try to eat more fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. Brown rice and quinoa are also excellent, healthy and filling components of a gluten-free diet.


The only treatment for CD is a lifelong, strict adherence to a gluten-free diet. People who are newly diagnosed with either CD or gluten sensitivity should talk to a doctor and/or registered dietitian (RD). Information about these conditions, as well as lists of hidden sources of gluten, such as lipsticks, toothpaste and medications, can help the CD or gluten sensitive patient manage their condition and lead a healthy, comfortable lifestyle.


Here are some great links to learn more about celiac disease and gluten sensitivities:





Contributor: Katherine Barfuss, RD, CDN


Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this blog are strictly those of the author and should not be construed as the opinions of Whitsons Culinary Group or any of its affiliates.  All content and material contained in this blog is provided for informational purposes only, and no representation is made as to the accuracy or completeness of this information.  It is general information that may not apply to you as an individual.  It is not medical advice and should not be treated as such.  You should not rely on the information in this blog as a substitute for your own doctor’s medical care or advice. If you have any specific questions about any medical matter you should consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider.

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