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Fit And Well Idaho: Celiac Disease

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By Brittany Cooper

Twin Falls, Idaho ( KMVT-TV / KSVT-TV ) Celiac disease affects one in 100 people worldwide. It’s an autoimmune disorder that causes the body to fight gluten and can damage the organs.

But two and a half million Americans are undiagnosed and face some serious health risks.

A patient diagnosed with celiac disease must adhere to a strict gluten-free diet.

Otherwise, they’ll face serious consequences.

"It's important to keep the gluten-free diet lifelong because if the person doesn't keep the diet, they are at increases for various diseases, including breast cancer, skin cancer, colon cancer, everything," explains Dr. Judith Csanky, St. Luke’s Magic Valley.

Currently the only treatment is the commitment towards this lifestyle.

But it's not all gloom and doom.

If having pancakes or waffles for breakfast is a family tradition, but your child just got diagnosed with celiac disease, don't worry. Some brands offer gluten-free products.

"Yeah, it can be a little bit more expensive, but on the other side it is healthier and beneficial for the body. The patient feels better. The energy level is better and their symptoms go away," Csanky says.

Yet not everyone has symptoms.

"Sometimes it’s hard to convince the person you have to be on a gluten-free diet because they don't feel better. They don't feel worse to start with, but they have the disease, and we have to prevent them from further complications in the future," Csanky explains.

May is Celiac Disease Awareness Month and events are underway.

You can take the Team Gluten Free Challenge, by living a week without wheat.

The fundraising effort requires you to raise at least 100 dollars for the Celiac Foundation.

For more information, please visit http://celiac.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/TGF-Week-Without-Week-Participant-Agreement.pdf.