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Kiwanis Club learns about Celiac Disease

The Bellefontaine Kiwanis Club heard from guest speaker Amy Jones, M.S., R.D., L.D., (pictured) during a meeting Thursday.

Jones is a dietician at Mary Rutan Hospital and spoke about Celiac Disease, the only disease that is treated only with diet.

Celiac Disease is a lifelong, digestive disorder affecting children and adults. It is generative meaning you are born with the gene. It can strike at any age. When people with Celiac Disease eat foods that contain gluten, it creates an immune-mediated toxic reaction that causes damage to the small intestine and does not allow food to be properly absorbed. Even small amounts of gluten (crumbs) in food can affect those with Celiac Disease and cause health problems. Damage can occur to the small bowel even when there are no symptoms present.

Gluten is the common name for the proteins in specific grains that are harmful to persons with Celiac Disease. These proteins are found in all forms of wheat, and related grains like rye, barley, and triticale. These grains must be eliminated completely to manage the condition. It is estimated that one in 133 people have Celiac, however greater than 90 percent of people with Celtic are undiagnosed. Celiac disease is diagnosed through blood test, and if you are found to be at risk, your doctor may order an intestinal biopsy to confirm the diagnosis. Sometimes it may be nine years between symptoms and diagnosis.

The symptoms can be very vague and can be attributed to many other medical conditions. Symptoms may range from the more obvious abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, or constipation. Less obvious symptoms include weight loss, anemia, Vitamin D deficiency, joint pain, infertility, miscarriages, canker sores in the mouth, depression, or tiredness. People with other autoimmune disease (like Type 1 Diabetes, Lupus, or Thyroid disease) should also be screened for Celiac Disease. Having any of the symptoms listed above does not mean you have Celiac. These are symptoms that can be explained by many other conditions, but Celiac Disease may be a possibility.

When gluten is removed from the diet, the small intestine will start to heal and overall health improves. Adapting to a gluten free diet requires significant lifestyle changes. It is also important to learn how to avoid “cross contact” with gluten containing foods in the home.

If you suspect you might have Celiac, it is important to not start a gluten free diet without talking to your doctor first about testing. While “trying out” a gluten free diet might be interesting to see if it helps your symptoms, it actually makes getting a true diagnosis more difficult. If you are following a gluten free diet before testing, it may alter your test results and make them inaccurate.

The Logan County Celiac Support Group started in May 2010. They meet monthly at the Crossroads Building behind AcuSport. It is also affiliated with the National Celiac Disease Foundation.

In other club business, Rotary President Natalie Comer was remembered and students of the month from the six local schools were honored.

Next week, Christie Barns will speak about the Mary Rutan Foundation.

We encourage open dialogue among people who may disagree. Difficult conversations must be had sometimes to make progress. If you disagree, please disagree respectfully. Cruelty will not be tolerated. This is a family friendly group.
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