Local woman battles Celiac Disease in the modern day

FILE - In this Aug. 2, 2013, file photo, a variety of foods labeled Gluten Free are displayed in Frederick, Md., Friday, Aug. 2, 2013. (AP Photo/Jon Elswick, File)

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) According to the University of Chicago’s Celiac Disease Center, on average 1 in 133 healthy people are diagnosed with Celiac Disease.

Sharon Larson, of Topeka, has Celiac Disease and eating gluten can have some real consequences.

“Tummy aches for sure and running to the bathroom. A little itsy bitsy bit, of an itsy bitsy crumb is all it takes,” said Larson.

With Celiac Disease, symptoms aren’t always noticeable, and by eating foods with gluten, you’re doing real damage to your body.

“For those individuals who consume gluten containing ingredients, it causes an auto-immune response in their bodies, and basically their cells believe a foreign material needs to be attacked. So they mount an immune response that can further damage their small intestines,” said Topeka Hy-Vee Registered Dietician Amber Groeling.

Celiac Disease can develop anytime during your life. There’s also a spectrum between being gluten intolerant and having a serious case of Celiac Disease. The hard part is knowing what foods to avoid.

“Gluten can be hidden in a lot of things. The obvious culprits are bread, flour tortillas, pasta.  But where a lot of people get confused is it’s hiding in a lot of sauces, BBQ sauce, soy sauce, candy even; like licorice usually has wheat flour or wheat starch. Canned soups typically use wheat starch to thicken it,” said Groeling.

The good news is there’s more options and availability for gluten free food then in the past. Restaurants are also increasingly cognizant of patrons with Celiac Disease.

If you think you have Celiac Disease or a gluten intolerance, Groeling recommends getting tested by your primary care doctor, before you start a gluten free diet, to get the most accurate results.


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