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Medical Insight: Celiac Disease – Essentia Health

Go to any major supermarket and you’ll find aisles of gluten-free products. Gluten, the protein found in wheat, rye, and barley, helps bread rise and gives pasta, noodles and dough elasticity and a pleasing texture. But for the 3 million Americans suffering from celiac disease, gluten is anything but pleasing. Consuming it can lead to abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea. Dr. Kimberly Kolkhorst, a gastroenterologist at Essentia Health in Fargo, explains that the problem happens within the small intestines where small finger-like projections called villi help the body absorb nutrients and vitamins. Patients that have celiac disease, what happens is the exposure over time to gluten causes the villi to then become blunted, and so as you can see in this pathological image, normally you’d have nice finger like projections, and then all of the sudden everything gets blunted.

Because the celiac patient is less able to absorb nutrients, they can become Iron, B12 and vitamin D deficient. This can lead to osteoporosis and other complications including depression, anxiety, headaches, thyroid and skin problems on top of the gastrointestinal symptoms. Dr. Kolkhorst says if patients suspect they have celiac disease, blood tests and an endoscopy can confirm the diagnosis. Once a patient has been diagnosed, the first step is education. And so, with a dietician they will go over anything that contains wheat, rye or barley – needs to be avoided. And then they teach you to read the labels and look for different additives because that gluten can sneaks in in a lot of different places. Dr. Kolkhorst says living a gluten-free life can be a challenge worth taking.

It’s a very strict, difficult diet. However, my patients that stick with this diet they feel so much better that they have no question- they want to keep doing this diet because it just makes such a big difference for them in their symptoms and their quality of life. With this Essentia Health Medical Insight, I’m Tracy Briggs..

As found on Youtube

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