glu·ten the tough, viscid, nitrogenous substance remaining when the flour of wheat or other grain is washed to remove the starch. It is a yellowish-gray, powdery mixture of plant proteins occurring in cereal grains such as wheat, rye, barley, and corn. The gluten in flour makes it ideal for baking, because the chainlike protein molecules of the gluten trap carbon dioxide and expand with it as it is heated. Gluten is also used as an adhesive and in making seasonings, especially monosodium glutamate (MSG).

Once considered an obscure malady, celiac disease now affects one out of every 133 Americans, according to a watershed study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine in 2003. Celiac disease is a genetic autoimmune disorder, meaning the immune system treats gluten—the elastic protein in wheat, spelt, barley, and rye—as a toxin. Celiac disease is four times more common today than it was five decades ago, according to 2009 research performed at the Mayo Clinic. For every person with celiac, experts believe there may be many more who have nonceliac gluten intolerance, “a condition in which you may experience a wide range of digestive problems in response to gluten, but unlike celiac, there is no appreciable damage to the intestine,” says Joseph Murray, MD, a Mayo Clinic gastroenterologist.

Diagnosis has improved in recent years, and with a 28 percent annual growth in the gluten-free food market, those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance have many more options these days. Still, the gluten-free journey isn’t without its bumps and roadblocks. Here’s how to navigate easily through every shopping trip, and each meal—and nourish yourself while avoiding gluten.

These items may or may not contain gluten. Look for "gluten-free" on the label; otherwise, pass.

Condiments: Bottled Asian sauces such as teriyaki, soy, or tamari sauce; bouillon, gravy, salad dressings.

Dairy: Processed cheeses, blue cheese, ice cream, and frozen or flavored yogurts.

Grain products: Cornflakes, corn bread, grits, kamut, and seasoned rice.

Nuts: Seasoned or flavored nuts.

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This site has lots of resources and recipes, even a gluten-free gift package you can purchase, Click Here.


Celiac disease is an inherited, autoimmune disease in which the lining of the small intestine is damaged from eating gluten and other proteins found in wheat, barley, rye, and possibly oats.

Alternative Names

Sprue; Nontropical sprue; Gluten intolerance; Gluten-sensitive enteropathy

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

The exact cause of celiac disease is unknown. The intestines contain projections (called villi) that absorb nutrients. In undiagnosed or untreated celiac disease, these villi become flattened. This affects the ability to absorb nutrients properly.

The disease can develop at any point in life, from infancy to late adulthood.

Those with a family member with celiac disease are at greater risk for developing the disease. The disorder is most common in Caucasians and those of European ancestry. Women are affected more commonly than men.

There are numerous diseases and conditions associated with celiac disease, including:

  • Anemia
  • Autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus
  • Certain types of intestinal cancer
  • Dermatitis herpetiformis
  • Down syndrome
  • Lactose intolerance
  • Miscarriage or unexplained infertility
  • Neurological conditions
  • Osteoporosis or osteopenia
  • Thyroid disease
  • Type 1 diabetes


The symptoms of celiac disease can vary significantly from person to person. This is part of the reason the diagnosis is frequently delayed. For example, one person may have constipation, a second may have diarrhea, and a third may have no irregularity in stools.

A partial listing of gastrointestinal symptoms:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Abdominal distention, bloating, gas, indigestion
  • Constipation
  • Decreased appetite (may also be increased or unchanged)
  • Diarrhea, chronic or occasional
  • Lactose intolerance (common upon diagnosis, usually goes away following treatment)
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stools that float, are foul smelling, bloody, or “fatty”
  • Unexplained weight loss (although people can be overweight or of normal weight upon diagnosis)

A partial listing of nonintestinal symptoms:

  • Anemia (low blood count)
  • Bone and joint pain
  • Bone disease (osteoporosis, kyphoscoliosis, fracture)
  • Breathlessness (due to anemia)
  • Bruising easily
  • Dental enamel defects and discoloration
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Growth delay in children
  • Hair loss
  • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
  • Irritability and behavioral changes
  • Malnutrition
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Muscle cramps
  • Nosebleed
  • Seizures
  • Short stature, unexplained
  • Skin disorders (dermatitis herpetiformis)
  • Swelling, general or abdominal
  • Vitamin or mineral deficiency, single or multiple nutrient (for example, iron, folate, vitamin K)