Celiac disease is very common in this country. 1 out of 126 Caucasians have it, but a lot of you may dismiss your symptoms and go un-diagnosed. We went grocery shopping with a Sioux Falls woman who's life has changed dramatically since she found out she can no longer eat gluten which is found in wheat, barley and rye, but after what it did to her, she is more than happy to avoid it.
Grocery shopping and eating out may have gotten a little more complicated and time consuming for Cheryl Austad since she was diagnosed with celiac disease 2 years ago. She says it's a small price to pay for finally feeling like a million bucks. Now to save time she heads straight to the Market Place and its gluten free section at the HyVee on East 26th Street and when she ventures through the other aisles she keeps her shopping guide in hand.
Cheryl says, "Oh, it helps me a lot, plus I am getting pretty good at reading ingredient labels."
Gastroenterologist Dr. Cristina Hill Jensen at Avera Gastroenterology Clinic says, "Celiac disease is essentially an allergy to wheat barley and rye. It's also classified as an autoimmune disease which means the body mounts a really horrible reaction in the small intestine when the person ingests wheat, barley or rye."
Gluten is the protein in wheat, barley and rye that causes the reaction in the small intestine. Yes, life has changed but now that Cheryl knows to avoid gluten, life has changed for the better.
Cheryl says, "I've been on a strict gluten-free diet and some of my symptoms have all but disappeared. I'm no longer fatigued all the time, I'm no longer feeling weak, I'm no longer running to the bathroom day and night so it's wonderful. I love getting my energy back. That's been the best part about this."
The more processed the food, the more gluten it tends to have in it that's why Cheryl tends to eat more fruits, vegetables and lean meats.
Dr. Hill Jensen says, "That's really the tough part. The only treatment we have for celiac disease is diet modification. When you look at everything you have to remove from your diet, it's pretty substantial."
Dr. Hill Jensen says early diagnosis is important because celiac patients are at increased risk for small bowel cancer if they continually eat things that irritate their digestive tract that cause chronic ulcers. That's just one reason Cheryl is sticking to her guns about a strict diet. She knows the longer she stays gluten free, the longer she'll live and the better she'll feel.
There is a Celiac Support Group that meets the 2nd Monday of every month at the V.A. in Sioux Falls on the 3rd floor.
Contact Numbers: 605.376.0668 or 605.528.6189