Celiac disease is an auto-immune condition that prevents the body from processing gluten. In this edition of Wellness, YNN's Katie Gibas explains the importance of understanding the disease.
Kathryn Szklany, a registered dietician, was diagnosed at age 12.
"Back then, they didn't have a lot of the foods and stuff they have now. So I didn't really know what I was doing. So I ate mostly meat and potatoes," remembered Szklany.
"There was one kind of gluten-free bread. And it was extremely thick and would fall apart the moment you tried to bite into it," she added.
Now, grocery stores have hundreds of options for gluten-free products.
Szklany said, "It's exciting. I think it was just two years ago that I had a hamburger on a bun for the first time since I was 12. So all these new options are coming out now. I can have pizza. It's like experiencing food all over again."
In September, a product labeled gluten-free was recalled for having nearly twice the amount of gluten the package said it had. Dietitians say having too much gluten can cause serious health consequences.
"Side effects would be abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, fatigue. They get a lot of unpleasant GI symptoms," explained Amy Merwarth, RD, CDN Registered Dietitian.
Szklany said, "If it happens over time, then there's mal-absorption problems and you're not getting the right amount of nutrients which is a huge concern."
Earlier this year, the FDA defined gluten-free as 20 parts per million or less of gluten. That is the smallest amount of gluten they can test for. Manufacturers have until next August to comply.
Merwarth said, "If it has more than the 20 parts per million, they can't label it gluten-free because that's considered above the threshold of what people with Celiac Disease could handle in their system."
"Even a small amount of gluten could set them off and lead towards inflammation, long-term effects, short GI illnesses and things like that," she added.
20 parts per million means, .002% of the product is gluten.