Causes and symptoms of celiac disease

The clinical picture of celiac disease is very variable and can affect different organs and systems of our body. Specifically, among the most frequent symptoms we find:

eating disorders

chronic intestinal disorders

fertility disorders

pregnancy disorders





chronic fatigue


hypostaturality (short stature)

tooth enamel hypoplasia (lack of tooth enamel)

hypertransaminasemia (high transaminases)

The disease can appear at any age and in different forms , even after years of “simple” gluten intolerance, but it is not yet completely clear what the triggers are.


Worldwide , it affects 1% of the population , but in Italy only 27% of the estimated celiacs have been diagnosed. The events recognized to date are: [3]


atypical form : the most frequent, it mainly affects women and appears in adulthood

potential form : caused by the presence of specific antibodies in the peripheral blood

classic form : the rarest, it begins in the first years of life.

Diagnosing celiac disease is possible thanks to blood tests (to identify specific antibodies) and small intestine biopsy (to determine the condition of the intestinal villi).


Food advice for celiacs, family and friends: how to avoid contamination

Although (apparently) a gluten free diet may seem limiting and based on sacrifices, the Mediterranean diet to which we are linked contains various foods that are naturally gluten-free and therefore usable in the creation of simple and complex recipes.


A good balanced diet to reduce the effects of celiac disease may contain: buckwheat, corn, legumes, rice , as well as fish, potatoes, eggs, meat, vegetables, fruit, milk and cheese. It is therefore not mandatory to use gluten free products to be sure not to take gluten.


According to the AIC ( Italian Celiac Association ), for a balanced diet even in the case of celiac disease, the main source of calories (55%) must derive from ” carbohydrates in foods of plant origin (tubers, cereals, legumes, fruit and vegetables ) “, Fats must not exceed 30% of the daily caloric intake, while proteins must cover 15% of energy needs. [4]


What we need to pay more attention to is the possibility of accidental contamination , which involves the involuntary addition of gluten to a product that is naturally devoid of gluten .


In fact, gluten has the characteristic of “transferring” or contaminating food and materials used for preparation. In this sense, plastic, wood and silicone are to be banished in the kitchen of a celiac because, even if they are washed carefully, they are always “agglutinated”, that is vectors of glutinous contamination.


According to the AIC , this type of contamination can in fact occur:


during industrial preparation , that is, due to cross – breeding of products with and without gluten along the supply chain, from harvesting, to packaging, to product delivery.

For so-called environmental reasons , i.e. related to incorrect behavior during the storage and preparation of the product.

To combat possible environmental contamination, the Italian Celiac Association has drawn up some simple rules to follow at home:


  1. Prepare food with clean pots. It is not necessary to buy batteries of specific pots or dedicated sponges: for a correct cooking of gluten-free recipes you only need a clean pot , a result that can be reached both by washing by hand and in the dishwasher. For hygienic reasons, the only attention required is towards any food encrustations, cases in which it is strongly recommended to proceed with a new washing of the cookware.
  2. Store the open packages correctly , so that they cannot contaminate other gluten-containing products: therefore prefer the use of plastic, resealable and disposable containers.
  3. Wash your hands before starting to cook and, in any case, after contact with foods that contain gluten (such as flour).
  4. Avoid cooking or frying with water or oil in which foods with gluten have previously been cooked or fried.
  5. Pay attention to the arrangement of trays in the oven , if you want to cook foods with and without gluten at the same time: it is preferable in these cases to place the trays with foods for celiacs on the higher shelves and those of foods with gluten on the lower shelves.
  6. Use parchment paper or aluminum when cooking food directly on a plate or grill of the oven on which foods with gluten may have previously been cooked.

In the case of meals outside the home in collective catering establishments, the main tips to follow are:


ask for the ingredients of the dish you want to eat and, if in doubt of the presence of gluten, avoid ordering it

inform staff about their diet and which ingredients should be avoided.

This information was collected in 80 seconds of useful and entertaining video, also made by AIC .

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