Being celiac today is no longer a drama (or yes)


On the occasion of # National Celiac Day we review the difficulties and progress of the patients.

The diagnosis can be quick in young children or take years in adults, but it always falls like a jug of cold water: a patient with celiac disease. At least it is known that by changing your eating habits you will improve your health and the improvement begins to notice quickly as soon as the diet is changed.

What decades ago meant forgetting about some whims such as pastries, breads, pasta and even beer has changed with the boom specialized establishments, processed products that avoid traces of gluten, pastry shops that have replaced the most dangerous flours for the health of celiacs (wheat, oats, barley, kamut, spelled, spelled, triticale and derivatives) and even beer that no longer poses a threat. However, the group of celiacs affirms that much remains to be done.

“In 2008 the early diagnosis protocol was approved in Spain, but in recent years, thanks to advances in science, we have discovered that there are other pathologies that are confused with celiac disease. That is why we need the diagnosis to be updated to discover as soon as possible what disease we are facing: non-celiac gluten sensitivity, which is not celiac disease itself, is a diagnosis that can be asymptomatic and take a long time to be discovered, ”says Patricia García, Vice-president of the Federation of Celiac Associations of Spain (FACE) and president of the Association of Celiacs of Castilla y León (Acecale).

Invisible disease

The FACE has launched an awareness campaign that recommends the population not to trust the absence of symptoms such as diarrhea or vomiting, because there are many others that can be related to gluten and go unnoticed.

“If someone has been feeling tired or low on energy for a long time, it is not always due to stress or workload. It is advisable to discuss this with the family doctor to carry out a blood test that discards the markers of the pathology, all the more so if we have a family member with gluten intolerance or sensitivity because there is a genetic load. Chronic fatigue, migraines, headaches, iron deficiency anemia, lack of appetite ... are related to a poor absorption of nutrients because the villi of the intestine is atrophying ”, adds the vice president of FACE.

In Spain it is estimated that one in 100 people suffer from celiac disease and that 85% are undiagnosed. The danger that this implies is the lack of knowledge about the consequences of continuing to consume gluten while having celiac disease, such as diabetes, infertility, abortions or intestinal lymphoma.

Gluten-free food 'boom'

Once the diagnosis is received, the experts' recommendation is to follow a strict gluten-free diet. The extra cost in the shopping basket that supports a family with a celiac member is 1,040 euros per year more than a family that does not have this restriction, according to the Price Report on Gluten Free Products 2017.


This situation of economic discrimination led the Ombudsman to issue a recent report, where he urged the administrations to greater commitment and aid to the celiac group, to lower prices or allow tax advantages, without institutional response at the moment.

The only good news of an increase in the number of diagnosed who demand these products is that social awareness is also increasing, the informative platforms and companies that have seen the market niche and are beginning to change their procedures to guarantee the absence of gluten.

The Sushi Daily franchise, for example, has been the first oriental food chain to be certified by FACE to offer products suitable for celiacs in Carrefour centers in Madrid. Ambar beer, for its part, accompanies its gluten-free variety with the sponsorship of outreach activities, such as the II Cangas Gluten Free Conference that is held this weekend in Cangas de Narcea, in Asturias, the population with the most celiac disease in Spain .

App for celiacs

The Celicidad platform, for its part, was born two years ago on the occasion of National Celiac Day, promoted by young entrepreneurs Lorena Pérez and Juan Luis Quirós, co-organizers of the Cangas days. They have designed the free mobile application Celicidad, with a geolocated list of more than 2,100 gluten-free establishments in Spain, certified and valued by more than 18,000 registered users.

“The project started because I have been celiac for 20 years and I was resigned to going out with my friends and not being able to eat or drink with them. My boy was worried about that and as he is a computer engineer we began to think about the idea of ​​making a search of all the establishments throughout the country where he could consume a celiac without health risks and create an application that would help to locate them ", explains Lorena Pérez, CEO of Celicidad.

In their search for restaurants, cider houses, patisseries, bakeries and everything that has to do with good eating, they discovered that the gluten-free boom was putting the celiac group at risk without knowing it. In some cases, this gluten-free boom is due to food trends promoted by celebrities and celebrities who have decided to remove gluten from their diets, without suffering from celiac disease and therefore without a scientific basis that shows that it is beneficial for their health.

“We have observed that some restaurants that claim to have a gluten-free menu don't really know what cross contamination is and prepare everything in the same place. Or if they are careful in the kitchen, but there is a lack of training among the dining room staff, who can bring you cutlery on top of a basket of bread with gluten, so the contamination is still there. Nor can it be considered a "restaurant suitable for coeliacs" that has a gluten-free beer and frozen bread. That is why in our application we only recommend establishments that comply with all food safety regulations ”, adds the entrepreneur.

Despite the difficulties, the extra cost, the health risks and the lack of support for scientific research that studies celiac disease, their conclusions are optimistic: “If I had been diagnosed today, I would see everything much easier than it does 20 years: with more information, more offer and better flavors in all gluten-free products ”.

Images | FACE | Glenn Carstens / Unsplash | Ed Gregory / Pexels | Ambar Beer | Celicity
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