Once considered a problem only with those suffering from Celiac disease, gluten has now become a major health concern. Evidence supports Celiac Disease is on the rise with the elderly.
What Research Says
Current research finds Celiac Disease does occur even in individuals who have had no prior problem with gluten. Some studies have found people do develop Celiac Disease as late as their 50s and 60s. Diagnosis takes time as symptoms slowly appear.
Symptoms in older adults are unique. Seniors may not be aware their symptoms are due to Celiac Disease. Bloating, flatulence and abdominal discomfort are common, yet the mildness of these conditions may not seem threatening.
Awareness of Celiac Disease among the elderly is not common. Researchers suggest more awareness is needed for a prompt diagnosis to occur. As people become informed more will be properly diagnosed and then begin treatments.
Celiac Disease and Gluten Intolerance
Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disorder. It is believed to affect 1 in 100 people and most often occurs in those genetically pre-disposed to the disease. Gluten is commonly found in wheat, barley and rye. Gluten affects the digestive tract in such a way that micronutrients are not well-absorbed by the body.
It damages the small intestine and could lead to other health problems. Malnutrition and anemia are a concern in the elderly population.
Gluten intolerance presents symptoms similar to Celiac however people tested do not test positive for Celiac Disease. This condition is known as Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity (NCGS) and Non-Celiac Wheat Sensitivity (NCWS). Symptoms disappear after wheat is removed from the diet. Research continues in this area.
Treatment is Simple but Not Easy
The basic treatment for Celiac Disease, NCGS and NCWS is to adopt a gluten free lifestyle. This is not easily done. Gluten is present in more than just the food we eat. It is existent in such items as lipstick, lip gloss and lip balm, herbal or nutritional supplements, some drugs and over the counter medicines, vitamins and supplements. Even play-dough contains gluten.
Omitting gluten from a diet takes commitment. Seniors may be hesitant to forgo favorite foods such as pizza, pasta or ice cream. Cross-contamination may occur in eating establishments. Label reading becomes a new norm.
Overcoming Challenges Faced by Seniors
A proper diagnosis is the biggest challenge for Seniors. When symptoms appear have a visit with your doctor about Celiac Disease. While the majority of cases are now found in people over 50, many are not diagnosed until they are well into their 60s. Prompt diagnosis is important.
Light at the End of the Tunnel
Because of greater awareness of the problems gluten causes there is an increase of gluten free foods, recipes and cook books. Restaurants are offering more gluten free choices.
Learning to live with a gluten free diet is doable. It may be more expensive, but the health benefits are well worth the price. Living with Celiac Disease also takes time, but the results are beneficiary. Restored energy, renewed zest for life, lifting of brain-fog and an end to skin rashes and neurological problems are the rewards of a gluten free lifestyle.
Bridge to Better Living® believes everyone should have the opportunity to have an enjoyable quality of life. Contact them today for your ownconsultation.