Sarnia-Lambton Celiac Support Group
(London Chapter)

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The Sarnia-Lambton Celiac Support Group is a non-profit organization that gives support to individuals who are diagnosed as having Celiac Disease or Dermatitus Herpetiformis (HD).

Celiac Disease and Dermatitus Herpetiformis (DH) is also known as gluten intolerance, is a genetic disorder that affects 1 in 100 Canadians. Symptoms of Celiac Disease and DH can range from the classis features, such as diarrhea, weight loss, and malnutrition, to latent symptoms such as isolated nutrient deficiencies, but no gastrintestinal symptoms. The disease mostly affects people from European descent, and may occur more rarely in black and Asian populations. Those affected suffer damage to the villi (shortening and villous flattening) in the lamina propria crypt regions of their intestines when they eat specific food grain antigens (toxic amino acid sequences) that are found in wheat, rye and barley. Oats have traditionally been considered to be toxic to celiacs, but recent scientific studies have shown otherwise. This research is ongoing, however, and it may be too early to draw solid conclusions.

Because of the range of symptoms celiac disease presents, it can be difficult to diagnose. The symptoms can range from "mild weakness", bone pain, and aphthous stomatitis to chronic diarrhea, abdominal bloating and progressive weight loss. If a person with the disorder continues to eat gluten, studies have shown that he or she will increase their chances of gastrointestinal cancer by a factor 40 to 100 times that of the normal population. Further, "gastrointestinal carcinoma or lymphoma" develops in up to 15 percent of patients with untreated or refractory celiac disease. It is therefore imperative that the disease is quickly and properly diagnosed so it can be treated as soon as possible.

Based on the figure mentioned above we can extrapolate the total number of people in Canada with celiac disease. It is very important that doctors understand just how many people have this disease so that routine testing for it is done to bring the diagnosis rate in line with the disease's epidemiology. Testing is fairly simple and involves screening the patient for antigliadin (AGA) and endomysium antibodies (EmA), and/or doing a biopsy on the area of the intestines mentioned above, which is still the standard for a formal diagnosis.

The only acceptable treatment for celiac disease is strict adherence 100% gluten-free diet for life. An adherence to a gluten-free diet can prevent almost all complications caused by the disease. A gluten-free diet means avoiding all products that contain wheat, rye, barley and oats, or any of their derivatives. This is a difficult task as there are many hidden sources of gluten found in the ingredients of many processed foods. This information is designed to help people with celiac disease and DH get diagnosed, and make life easier after their diagnosis.
Information partly from : www.celiac.com

To summarize:

Celiac disease is a medical condition in which the absorption surface of the small intestine is damaged by a substance called gluten. This results in an inability of the body to absorb nutrients such as protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals, which are necessary for good health.

Symptoms include anemia, chronic diarrhea, weight loss, fatigue and irritability. In children, there is often poor growth and failure to thrive.

Treatment, there is no known cure, but can be effectively treated and controlled. The treatment is a strict adherence to a gluten-free diet for life. This requires knowledge dietic counseling since Celiacs must be alert to hidden sources of gluten such as wheat, rye, oats and barley, hydrolyzed vegetable/plant protein, malt, spelt, kamut and certain drug products.

Who has Celiac. Although a person is bom with it, it can surface at any age. It is estimated that 1 in 100 Canadians are affected by this illness. Until recently, it was recognized mainly in children but the rate at which adults are being diagnosed is increasing, particularly those in the 40-50 year age bracket, due to better screening and knowledge by the medical profession.

The Sarnia-Lambton Support Group meets regularly for support and food information, including recipes.

Meetings take place on the last Monday of every second month during the fall and winter season. These meetings take place in September, November, January, March. Our last meeting held in May is a pot luck supper. Here you can eat what you want without concern.

Call in advance for up to date meeting information and location.

Meeting Schedule - 2005/2006
Smith's Family Centre, London Line

Date/Time Topics
September 28, 2005 - 7:30pm General Information
November 28, 2005 - 7:30pm Annual Gluten Free Bake Sale
January 30, 2006 - 7:30pm General Discussion
March 27, 2006 - 7:30pm General Discussion
May 29, 2006 - 6:30pm Annual Gluten Free Pot-Luck Supper

Other sites with additional information:

For more local information, please call:

Canadian Celiac Association-Toronto