Health Beat

Health Beat: Celiac disease myths

Health Beat: Celiac disease myths

CHICAGO - At least three million Americans are living with celiac disease, but there are many myths about the condition.

The first is that gluten sensitivity is the same as celiac disease. That's false. If you have a sensitivity to gluten, you may be able to tolerate small amounts of it. Celiac is a genetic, autoimmune disease that causes damage to parts of the small intestine when you eat gluten. People with the disease can't have any gluten.

Another myth is that celiac disease isn't serious. In fact, if it's untreated, celiac can lead to thyroid problems, neurological disorders, osteoporosis, cancer, and more.

"Another surprising association is infertility in women," said Dr. Bana Jabri, the director of research at the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center.

Myth number three is that you can outgrow celiac disease. Unfortunately, you'll have it for life.

Another fallacy is that a gluten-free diet cures celiac disease. There is no cure, but avoiding gluten can prevent symptoms and complications.

"Going on a gluten-free diet is important, and that even if you don't have symptoms when you eat gluten, gluten can actually do a lot of harm," Jabri shared.

And one last myth is that you'll have to eliminate all grains if you have celiac disease. Some like quinoa, amaranth, millet, and buckwheat don't contain gluten and are OK.

Doctors believe about 83 percent of Americans who have celiac disease are undiagnosed or misdiagnosed with other conditions.

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