Most young adults do not think about what is going into their bodies and eat whatever they feel like. In contrast, people with Celiac disease spend their lives analyzing food labels and inspecting everything they eat in order to live a comfortable life.
Although often confused, Celiac disease and the allergy to gluten are the same condition. Gluten is a protein in wheat. “Celiac disease is an immune reaction to eating gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye,” explains Mayoclinic.com. Gluten can be found in pasta, bread, cereals, crackers, baked goods, beer and other kinds of alcohol, foods with breading, batters for waffles and pancakes, and it may be in other foods because of cross contamination.
Symptoms of Celiac disease include: indigestion, gas, stomach pain, diarrhea, backaches, fatigue, and muscle cramps. These symptoms can be halted if gluten is not consumed. Avoidance is the only treatment for Celiac disease.
According to Mayoclininc.com, when gluten is consumed by a person who is allergic to it, an immune response happens in the small intestine. This leads to inflammation and damages the small intestine’s lining. It also prevents the absorption of nutrients essential for a healthy lifestyle.
When people are not getting the proper the nutrients, it can break down their brain, bones, liver, nervous system, and other organs and systems, according to mayoclinic.com. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease; this means that people dealing with Celiac are more susceptible to colds. The disease can develop into other health problems later in life, such as diabetes.
People with gluten allergies are not born with it; they develop it later in life if they have the genetic predisposition to it.
The diagnostic process can take many years. Patients are often put on a rotation diet by their doctor to determine the source of the allergen. Later, most are given an Upper Gastrointestinal Endoscopy Test to confirm the diagnosis.
Kelsey McLaughlin is a MU student who has Celiac disease. She said it was hard living with the disease at first, because not many people are aware of it. “[Celiac disease is] becoming more common; people need to know the basics of what it is,” offers McLaughlin. Today, more companies are accommodating those with this disease by making gluten-free food.
“[Millersville dining services is] willing to work with students and help with suggestions,” says McLaughlin.
Millersville is the top school out of those she considered attending in best accommodating food allergies. This is especially true if she eats at the Upper Deck. Uncontaminated, individualized meals are available if students with Celiac disease cannot eat what is put out at the buffet. The Anchor also offers gluten-free options like chips and bread. North Side Bistro is also considering serving gluten-free options.