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Expert explains about food intolerances
Around one percent of the European population suffers from chronic autoimmune disease celiac disease. Many patients and their relatives do not even know what that means or how best to deal with it. Most sufferers notice intolerance to certain foods associated with celiac disease early in childhood. A nutritionist explains how to deal with the disease correctly.
Dr. Katharina Werkstetter is a celiac disease expert at Dr. from Haunersche Children's Hospital. As a project manager, she and her team developed a free, ad-free online food intolerance course focusing on gluten allergy that was recently put online. "Our online course is designed to familiarize people with celiac disease with the latest scientific findings on food intolerance," said the specialist. The most important content is summarized below.
What exactly is celiac disease?
Celiac disease is a chronic autoimmune disease that can occur at any age if a person has the genetic predisposition to do so. In most cases, celiac disease appears early in childhood. The cereal protein gluten applies to Dr. According to Werkstetter as a trigger. Gluten is primarily used to hold the dough together in pasta, bread and other baked goods.
What happens in the gastrointestinal tract of people with celiac disease?
"Gluten can trigger a reaction of the immune system in the small intestine in people with a genetic predisposition, which damages the mucous membrane of the small intestine," report the experts from the Child Health Foundation in a press release to the new information portal. The result: villi wither and the surface of the intestine shrinks. This means that nutrients can be absorbed more poorly. There are often nutrient deficits in iron, calcium and / or vitamins.
How does celiac disease manifest itself?
According to the team of experts, an external characteristic for celiac disease is a bulging belly. If gluten intolerance already occurs in young children, growth disorders and chronic diarrhea are often also evident. In the later course the symptoms become a little more diffuse, which is why celiac disease is not always recognized immediately. Sufferers complain of frequent digestive problems, chronic fatigue and exhaustion. Often these signs are due to iron deficiency and anemia. Other possible symptoms are:
- Difficulty concentrating,
- chronic headache,
- Hair loss,
- brittle nails,
- Enamel defect,
- Tendency to break bones (osteoporosis),
- itchy rash.
How to diagnose celiac disease
If a suspicion is suspected, only a simple and inexpensive blood test is carried out to diagnose celiac disease. Affected people produce autoantibodies against the body's own enzymes, which can be determined by a blood test. If the test is positive, tiny tissue samples can be taken from the small intestine for a more precise diagnosis. For this purpose, gastroscopy is usually performed.
How is gluten intolerance treated?
"Only a lifelong, strict diet helps with celiac disease, in which all gluten-containing cereal products and dishes made from them must be left out," said the experts of the information portal for celiac disease. This is a major challenge for patients, especially at the beginning. Not only is going to the supermarket such a study in itself, eating out of the house can also be a problem at times. However, according to the specialists, the effort is worth it, because with a strictly gluten-free diet, patients usually experience a quick and permanent improvement in the symptoms.
Constancy is required
An important rule for permanent freedom from symptoms is the constant adherence to the diet. "Even with a good course, it can take one to three years, especially in adults with celiac disease, for the mucous membrane to fully recover and for the intestinal villi to return to their usual length," emphasize the experts. Non-compliance threatens long-term health consequences. This includes an increased risk for:
- Premature babies,
- Impairments of fertility,
- Colon cancer (in rare cases).
German Celiac Society warns of false reports
The Internet provides a good platform for finding out about the disease and its effects. "Unfortunately, there is a lot of incorrect information lurking on the Internet," warn the experts from the German Celiac Society (DZG). For this reason, the online course www.zoeliakie-verstehen.de was developed to support those affected and to enable them to live a healthy and carefree life despite a chronic illness. (vb)