Better PCOS Health: A Dietary Disease That’s Common … and Commonly Misdiagnosed

Celiac disease is much more widespread in the U.S than was previously believed. You may not even have heard of it. But the condition can cause a myriad of symptoms and the National Institutes of Health launched the Celiac Disease Awareness Campaign to educate doctors and the public about its prevalence.
People with celiac disease can’t digest gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley, which are used in bread, pasta, cookies and beer. Less than a decade ago, one in every 10,000 Americans was thought to be affected by the condition. But new research suggests the figure may be as high as 1 in every in 133 – in other words, 2 million U.S. citizens.
When a person who is genetically prone to celiac disease eats gluten, it triggers an auto-immune response, causing the body to attack itself and destroy normal tissue, in particular the villi in the small intestine. The villi are tiny, hair-like fingers which absorb nutrients from food. When they malfunction, the digestive system goes haywire, causing problems that can range from chronic diarrhea, bloating and gas to reflux and constipation.
People with celiac disease have higher rates of osteoporosis and infertility. In severe cases, young people can’t absorb the nourishment needed to grow.
Many doctors don’t realize that the condition, which can run in families, often manifests itself in ways that have nothing to do with the digestive system, such as stunted growth. Doctors often misdiagnose, mistreat or miss it altogether, says Peter Green, director of the Celiac Disease Center at New York’s Columbia University.
“Studies show there’s a great delay in diagnosis in this country. Doctors are taught it is rare,” he added. In one study, Columbia University researchers found it took an average of 11 years for patients to receive a diagnosis of celiac disease.
There are two ways to test for the condition. Specific blood tests can be performed but false negatives are possible. If a blood test is positive, a biopsy of the small intestine, considered the gold standard of celiac disease diagnosis, is required.
To heal, people must eat a gluten-free diet for the rest of their lives because even a tiny portion of gluten can trigger an immune response.
A while back, the US Food and Drug Administration began requiring manufacturers to list ingredients that contain protein derived from eight major allergenic foods, including wheat. Stores like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s now offer dozens of choices of delicious, gluten-free foods, which are also an option in restaurant chains such as P.F. Chang’s China Bistro and Outback Steakhouse.
A balanced, nutritious diet for people genetically prone to celiac disease can, when combined with regular exercise, boost weight loss by helping to reverse Insulin Resistance – a blood glucose and insulin imbalance which often causes obesity.
If left unchecked, Insulin Resistance-linked excess weight may lead to a variety of disorders, including Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), a leading cause of infertility and menstrual irregularity, as well as acne and other skin conditions, excess facial hair and female hair loss. However, overweight women do not have monopoly on PCOS. Up to 50% of PCOS sufferers may be women who are of normal weight or even lean.

Next Steps

  1. Take the PCOS Quiz!  Get your score and assess your hormone health risks.
  2. Join our Facebook Sisterhood Group Pose your questions to this group of like-minded women. Get the answers to your questions and the support you need.
  3. Checkout the Hormone Reset. Guided Practices to eliminate anxiety, lose weight and boost energy.

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