Every year in May we strive to do our part to increase awareness about celiac disease in honor of National Celiac Disease Awareness Month. Over the last two years, I have personally noticed that people are already more aware than they were five years ago. When I explain what we produce at Bob’s Red Mill, there is less explaining about what gluten free means and why we make gluten free products. People are starting to get it. Either they have gluten issues themselves, or they have a family member, friend or coworker who are gluten-intolerant or have celiac disease. I take this as a sign that awareness programs are working.
Last year we had so much fun (and learned so much!) sharing info about celiac disease and gluten free living every day in May through Twitter and Facebook that we’re going to do it again this year. Find tips, recipes and articles by following us on Twitter (@bobs_red_mill) and Facebook (Bob’s Red Mill). I’ll also be trying my hand at some recipes from our favorite gluten free cookbooks and share some personal stories from our employees who are living life gluten free.
We’re going to start simple today by defining Celiac Disease:
Celiac Disease is a genetic condition in which the consumption of foods containing gluten (a form of protein found in some grains e.g. wheat, barley, and rye) triggers an autoimmune response that damages the small intestine. The damage to the intestine makes it hard for the body to absorb nutrients from food, especially fat, calcium, iron, and folic acid, leading to malnutrition and a variety of other problems such as diarrhea, weight loss, and weakness.
In the United States, the exact number of people who have Celiac Disease is not known. Recent screening tests have shown that 1 in every 133 people may have the condition. Many of those people are undiagnosed or misdiagnosed with other conditions that have similar symptoms. The only cure is to follow a gluten free diet.