It goes without saying that anyone who serves in the military needs to be healthy and strong—and that military leaders have an obligation to keep enlisted servicemen and women as safe and healthy as possible. So, it makes sense that people with food allergies (including celiac patients) are disqualified from military service, but it is less clear why celiac testing is not a part of the medical exam to qualify for enlistment.

Today, the Gluten Free RN addresses the issue of celiac disease in the military. She explains the challenges of preparing gluten-free food in a mess hall setting and describes the consequences for an active duty soldier who is found to have celiac disease.

Nadine shares a research study exploring celiac trends among active duty military as well as a case study around veterans and celiac disease. Listen in for insight on what’s behind the increased prevalence of celiac disease among military personnel and the confirmed association between celiac disease and other complex health issues.

What’s Discussed: 

Why celiac patients are disqualified from enlisting in any branch of service

  • Unable to provide safe food

What happens to military personnel who are found to have celiac disease

  • Will receive medical discharge

The US military policy around food allergies and intolerances

  • No accommodations made

Countries that allow celiac patients to serve

  • Israel, Finland and Scandinavia

The Mayo Clinic study of celiac trends among active duty military

  • Healthy worker population with medical diagnostic coding
  • Incidence of celiac disease increased five-fold from 1999-2008
  • Combination of increased suspicion and environmental factors

The challenge of preparing gluten-free food in a military setting

  • High risk of cross-contamination

A case study involving military veterans and celiac disease

  • Confirmed association between CD and other complex issues

The benefits of a gluten-free diet

  • Preventative for autoimmune disorders, nutritional deficiencies and cancer

Nadine’s argument for celiac testing prior to enlistment

  • Obligation to safety of servicemen/women

Resources:

Military Standards of Medical Fitness

‘The Incidence and Risk of Celiac Disease in a Healthy US Adult Population’ in the American Journal of Gastroenterology

‘Celiac Sprue Among US Military Veterans: Associated Disorders and Clinical Manifestations’  in Digestive Diseases and Sciences

‘Gluten-Free Soldier in Afghanistan’ in Gluten-Free Living

‘Medical Mix-Up Sidelines Army Sergeant’s Career’ in Military Times

Celiac Disease-Related Veterans Affairs Case

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 Health Activism

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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