Much existing propaganda claims that African Americans do not suffer from celiac disease. Even the Gluten Free RN was surprised to find out that her adopted daughter had a genetic predisposition to the disease back in 2006, as research available at the time regarded the HLA-DQ2 and HLA-DQ8 genes to be primarily Caucasian traits. And until we take steps to conduct a mass screening, we simply don’t know how common celiac disease is among people of African descent.

Today, the Gluten Free RN is exploring celiac disease in the African American population. She covers a 2006 study out of Columbia University that assessed African American celiac patients, discussing the variety of ways the subjects presented with celiac disease and the potential reasons for their poor compliance with the prescribed gluten-free diet.

Nadine also considers the prevalence of celiac disease on the continent of Africa, explaining why she believes the number of celiac patients will explode with the population’s growing exposure to wheat. Listen in for the Gluten Free RN’s insight on other health issues that may point to undiagnosed celiac disease and learn how we can prevent celiac disease among the African American population with access to testing, social support and gluten-free food!

What’s Discussed:

The 2006 Columbia University study of celiac disease in African Americans

  • Identified nine patients with biopsy-proven celiac disease
  • Presented with diarrhea, iron deficiency anemia and autoimmune disorders

Why patients in the Columbia study demonstrated poor dietary compliance

  • Expense, availability and palatability of gluten-free food
  • Lack of symptoms at diagnosis, inaccurate dietary information

Nadine’s prediction around the number of celiac patients in Africa

  • Increasing exposure to wheat will cause explosion

The statistics regarding the mortality burden of celiac disease

  • Science Daily reported estimates of 42K child deaths every year in 2011
  • Majority from Africa and Asia

The overlap between diabetes and celiac disease

  • Every type 1 diabetic is HLA-DQ2/8 gene carrier

The health issues that may indicate undiagnosed celiac disease

  • Type 1 diabetes, cardiac issues, stroke and heart attack
  • Obesity (stems from lack of nutrient absorption)

How to prevent celiac disease among the African American population

  • Access to testing, social support and gluten-free food

Resources:

Celiac Disease and How Gluten Affects Your Skin EP011

‘Your Skin on Gluten’ on YouTube

‘Celiac Disease in African-Americans’ in Digestive Diseases and Sciences

‘First Global Estimates of Coeliac Disease and Its Mortality Burden’ in Science Daily

Neurological Disorders Associated with Celiac Disease EP012

‘Celiac Disease in the Developing Countries: A New and Challenging Public Health Problem’ in the World Journal of Gastroenterology

‘Systematic Review: Worldwide Variation in the Frequency of Coeliac Disease and Changes Over Time’ in Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics

‘HLA Typing and Celiac Disease in Moroccans’ in Medical Sciences

‘A Historical Assessment of Sources and Uses of Wheat Varietal Innovations in South Africa’ in the South African Journal of Science

University of Chicago: Celiac Disease Facts and Figures

‘Adult Coeliac Disease in South Africa: An Analysis of 20 Cases Emphasizing Atypical Presentations’ in the South African Medical Journal  

‘Epidemiological and Clinical Features in Immigrant Children with Coeliac Disease: An Italian Multicentre Study’ in Digestive and Liver Disease

‘Prevalence of Positive Coeliac Serology in a Cohort of South African Children with Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus’ in the South African Journal of Child Health

ESPGHAN Goes Africa Course

Connect with Nadine:

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Contact via Email

‘Your Skin on Gluten’ on YouTube

Melodies of the Danube Gluten-Free Cruise with Nadine

Books by Nadine:

Dough Nation: A Nurse’s Memoir of Celiac Disease from Missed Diagnosis to Food and Heal

Posted by Nadine Grzeskowiak, RN

Nadine is a 'food is medicine’ activist and is very proud of her work to educate all people about the power of food in health and wellness. Nadine is an expert consultant, professional speaker with over 1500 lectures to date, author of DOUGH NATION: A Nurse's Memoir of Celiac Disease From Missed Diagnosis to Food and Health Activism, podcaster, mom and former emergency/trauma/critical care nurse. Nadine is co-authoring her next book on the science of celiac disease.

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