Celiac disease and the gluten-free diet found unlikely to impact IVF outcomes or fertility

Here’s yet another reason why those without celiac disease or gluten sensitivity do not need to follow the gluten-free diet. Research presented in October by the Reproductive Medicine Associates of New Jersey (RMANJ) indicates that the gluten-free diet is not effective as a treatment for infertility. The findings are combined from 30 different scientific studies.

While healthy eating, including a low-carb diet, is part of a holistic, evidence-based approach to treating patients with infertility at RMANJ, adhering to a gluten-free diet has been shown to have no impact on increasing fertility for those trying to conceive.

The studies are the first large research projects to investigate IVF outcomes in gluten-free patients and the frequency of celiac disease in infertile patients.

One study found that patients on a gluten-free diet had equivalent IVF success rates to those whose diet included gluten, proving that maintaining a gluten-free diet to improve IVF outcomes is a major misconception.

The other study revealed that IVF success rates were equivalent between those with celiac disease (a disease with proven gluten intolerance) and those without.

More info: https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/

8 Ways to Celebrate Celiac Awareness Month

  1. Try a new GF recipe.
  2. Share the Celiac Symptoms Checklist available on the Kelowna Chapter website. Did you know that people with CD experience different symptoms and that some individuals with CD have Silent CD in which there are no obvious signs.
  3. Talk to your family about celiac testing. Did you know that there is a higher incident of CD in family members?
  4. Donate. Make a donation to the CCA.
  5. Share your favourite gluten-free recipe with friends, family or the celiac community. Send us your recipe to share with our membership.
  6. On May 16th, wear green in support of the May Awareness Green Ribbon Campaign.
  7. Pass on information about the GFFP to the managers or owners of your favourite restaurants.
  8. Post a link or article from Kelowna Celiac to your favorite social media account

Celiac Podcasts To Check Out

A Canadian Celiac Podcast with Sue Jennett

A new podcast with 16 episodes covering a range of topics with special guests including:

  • Episode 1 Melissa Secord of the CCA Jan 28, 2018
  • Episode 2 Ellen Bayens of the Celiac Scene Feb 2, 2018
  • Episode 3 Christian Varro Feb 5, 2018

The Celiac Project Podcast: 2 guys Talking Gluten-free with Mike & Cam

This podcast grew out of the documentary film The Celiac Project directed by Mike Frolichstein.  Mike and Cam, both diagnosed with CD, converse with a wide range of special guests to advance the conversation and raise awareness about celiac disease. There is a lot to explore in this series, with over a 100 episodes to choose from.


Celiac Awareness Month Events

By CCA National Office

May is recognized internationally as Celiac Awareness Month. This year, CCA will be building awareness around the atypical (non-classic) signs and symptoms of the celiac to encourage more people to recognize the early signs of the disease.

It’s estimated that one percent of the world’s population has celiac disease and another five to six percent have gluten sensitivity. Unfortunately, only 20 percent of at-risk Canadians have been diagnosed.

Throughout the month, watch for the following events, along with our social posts, media outreach and website, for information on the atypical or non-classic signs of celiac disease. This campaign is so important because while you may know a lot about celiac disease as a member of CCA, thousands across Canada don’t and they may be unaware that their symptoms could be signs of the disease or gluten sensitivity.

We encourage you to participate in various activities being held by the national organization or at the chapter level. Share social media posts with your friends and family to increase their understanding of the disease.

Our local chapters across Canada will be helping us promote this important month.

  • May 1 – House of Commons Members of Parliament asked to wear green celiac ribbons and make statements to kick off the month.
  • May 10 – Schar Facebook Live Day – Join our experts and friends at Schar on our CCA Facebook page (public) throughout the day, as they’ll be talking about the atypical signs of celiac disease and how to recognize symptoms.
  • May 14 – CN Tower Lighting – Join CCA National staff after dusk in Toronto to take ‘CN Selfies’ as the tower is lit up in green to commemorate the month. Be sure to tag @tourcntower and @CCAceliac and watch for the meet up time and location. Can’t be there?  Share our social posts!
  • May 16 – Celiac Awareness Day & Giving Day – Help us reach our $500,000 goal for the year by making an online donation to CCA National.
  • May 16 – 9-10 p.m. EDT – Could my child have celiac disease? – Free webinar. Click here to register.
  • May 23 – 10-11 p.m. EDT – Gluten Free 101: Getting Started on the Gluten-Free Diet – Free webinar
  • May 27 – Join us at the Gluten-Free Garage in Toronto at Artscape Wychwood Barns. CCA’s Sue Newell will be a featured speaker. Stop by the CCA booth!
  • May 29 – Poor Bone Health: Could it be celiac? A free webinar presented by CCA and Osteoporosis Society of Canada. Two times available: 6 pm – 7 p.m. and 9 – 10 p.m. EDT. Note: Limited to 100 participants for each time slot. Click here to register.

The Changing Face of Celiac Disease


Dr. Mohsin Rashid MD, MEd, FRCP(C)
Professor of Paediatrics, Gastroenterology & Nutrition – Dalhousie University

Celiac disease (CD) is a permanent intolerance to gluten (a protein present in wheat, rye and barley), which causes damage to the small intestinal mucosa by an autoimmune mechanism in genetically susceptible individuals. Autoantibodies such a tissue transglutaminase antibody (TTG), endomysial antibody (EMA) and deamidated gliadin peptide (DGP) are produced in the body and form the basis of serological tests used for screening. The diagnosis of CD is confirmed by small intestinal biopsy and treatment consists of a strict gluten-free diet for life.

Celiac disease is one of the most common chronic gastrointestinal disorders. It is estimated that 1% of the population is affected by CD, but majority of these individuals remain undiagnosed. Celiac disease was thought to be a rare malabsorptive disorder of infancy and childhood. However, it is now considered to be a common, multi-system disorder that can present at any age when gluten is present in the diet.

Awareness of CD amongst health professionals remains poor. Two large surveys from Canada have demonstrated that the mean duration of symptoms before diagnosis of CD in adults is about 12 years.

Celiac disease has a broad clinical spectrum. In classical (typical) CD, the patient presents with features of malabsorption such as diarrhea, steatorrhea, and weight loss or growth failure. In non-classical (atypical) CD, signs and symptoms of malabsorption are absent and patient may have other intestinal and/or extra-intestinal symptoms. Majority of patients with CD now present with non-classical symptoms. Clinical indications for screening for CD include the following;

  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Autoimmune thyroid disease
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Abdominal pain/bloating
  • Autoimmune liver disease
  • Abdominal distension
  • Down syndrome
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Turner syndrome
  • Chronic fatigue
  • First-degree relatives
  • Idiopathic elevation of transaminases
  • Recurrent aphthous stomatitis
  • Dental enamel defects
  • Iron deficiency anemia
  • Osteopenia/Osteoporosis
  • Chronic constipation
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Dermatitis herpetiformis
  • Selective IgA deficiency
  • Additional features in children:
    • Delayed puberty
    • Growth failure
    • Short stature
    • Irritability
    • Anorexia
    • Recurrent vomiting

The currently recommended test to screen for CD is IgA-tissue transglutaminase antibody (TTG). IgA deficiency is common in CD and hence total serum IgA level must also be measured. Patients with a positive test should be referred for endoscopic small intestinal biopsy to confirm the diagnosis. A gluten-free diet should NOT be started before an intestinal biopsy is performed, as it will affect the interpretation of the biopsy and make confirmation of the diagnosis difficult.

A timely diagnosis of CD will help alleviate suffering, prevent nutritional deficiencies and may also reduce the risk of developing certain cancers and other autoimmune disorders.

Celiac Month: Go Beyond The Gut

may 2018 celiac awareness monthMay is Celiac Awareness Month and the Canadian Celiac Association (CCA) is urging people to #GoBeyondTheGut and to be alert to the “atypical” (non-classical) features of celiac disease. While most people associate celiac disease with diarrhea, gas and bloating after eating gluten, many Canadians are unaware of the atypical or less common warning symptoms and signs of the disease.

It is estimated that about 80 per cent of Canadians with celiac disease remain undiagnosed – and could be suffering from debilitating “mystery” symptoms. Research has shown that while one percent of the world’s population is suffering from celiac disease, the lack of awareness and testing is severely delaying diagnosis.

“Many people look to classic clinical features like diarrhea and bloating as a sign of gluten intolerance but do not realize that this disease, which is an autoimmune condition, can impact the whole body,” says Dr. Mohsin Rashid, a professor of Pediatrics, Gastroenterology & Nutrition at Dalhousie University.

The best-known symptoms or celiac disease are digestive in nature – chronic diarrhea, abdominal pain, and unintended weight loss. However, celiac disease is much more than a digestive problem. Some of the top atypical features are anemia, bone disease, elevated liver enzymes neurological problems like migraines, short stature and reproductive problems.

“Iron deficiency anemia is now one the most frequent presenting problems in adults with celiac disease,” notes Dr. Rashid. “It is important for patients and family doctors to check for celiac disease when there is anemia and iron levels are low.”

“Delays in diagnosis can have serious health implications,” says Irene Wiseman of the Kelowna Chapter of the Canadian Celiac Association. “In severe cases, there could be fractures due to weak bones and even cancer of the bowel.”

“We encourage those who believe they might have a condition related to gluten to NOT simply stop eating gluten. It is important to know the exact problem and to get screened for celiac disease with a blood test. Celiac disease is a serious autoimmune disorder that can impact one’s health in many ways. Speak with your doctor and get tested FIRST,” urges Wiseman.

April Celiac Tidbits

By Mark Johnson

Some people are still reading and promoting the Wheat Belly book. The CCA has reviewed this book and this is not a scientifically-valid publication. We do not recommend reading this book, nor following its advice. To read a quality, scientific book on celiac disease, we encourage you to look at books like that of Shelley Case, who sits on the CCA’s Professional Advisory Council.

Confused about ingredient lists and whether there might be “hidden gluten”? Worry not. In Canada, any ingredient that contains wheat, rye, or barley gluten MUST be identified on the ingredient list. No “hidden” gluten is allowed. The only way to be certain is to look at the ingredient list on the package you are about to use.

Allergen and gluten labelling is a challenge for manufacturers. The upper limit for gluten is 20 ppm, but the limit for wheat and other primary allergens is zero. This means, legally, that a product can be gluten-free but not wheat free. This is why you may see products labelled GF but with warnings such as “may contain wheat” or “made in a facility that also processes wheat”. The gluten-free claim, which the manufacturer must be able to defend, indicates it is safe for people with celiac disease. So that’s what you need to look for as a celiac. If it has the “may contain” warning without the gluten-free claim, avoid the product. But if there’s a GF claim, it should be safe for you. The “made in
a factory…” warning does indicate that it may not be safe for someone with a wheat allergy, however.

A gluten-free market analysis by Grand View Research showed that the global gluten-free products market size was valued at USD $14.94 billion in 2016 and is expected to grow. Increasing incidences of celiac diseases & heightened gluten sensitivity in consumers has generated high demand for gluten-free foods & products in recent years. For more information, please read the full report (110 pages) at: https://www.grandviewresearch.com/industryanalysis/gluten-free-products-market

One of the common past-times (understandably) for celiacs is to complain about the high cost of gluten-free baked goods. It’s true, the cost is often over 200% higher than “regular” products. However, these higher costs are a result of the need for pure, gluten-free supplies. It can cost a LOT more to; a) get gluten-free flour alternatives, and b) to make sure those supplies test below 20 parts per million. The testing itself is expensive, but necessary because sick consumers and/or a recall by the CFIA can potentially ruin a business. Competition in the marketplace is fierce and that has lowered prices, but please be understanding with the pricing. If you want to learn more, we’re sure that gluten-free food manufacturers would be pleased to tell you more about the high production costs they face. Please support these businesses, who make life easier for us!

Volunteer For Kelowna Celiac

volunteer in kelowna

April 15-21 is National Volunteer Week and this year’s catchphrase captures the benefits of the activity of volunteering for the recipient organizations and the volunteers: Celebrate the value of volunteering: Building confidence, competence, connections and community.

Typically non-profit organizations rely on volunteers to fill many essential positions. Take the Kelowna Chapter as an example:

  • The chapter is governed by elected volunteer board members who meet routinely through-out the year
  • Celiac ambassadors answer emails, Facebook posts and phone calls
  • Special event volunteers staff booths at community events
  • The chapter website is managed by a tech-savy volunteer
  • The list goes on

A heartfelt thank you to our volunteers. We value your generous donation of time and skills!

Volunteers can also benefit from volunteering. Volunteers can learn new skills, build confidence, make connections with others and build community. Along the way they have fun, meet new people with similar interests and build a community of support.

Celebrate the value of volunteering by helping out with one of the many positions at the chapter. To find out more about how you can help contact Irene Wiseman at [email protected] or call 250-832-7738

Take The Health Canada Survey on Front-of-Package Labeling

By Health Canada

Dear Interested Canadians and Stakeholders,

Health Canada launched the Healthy Eating Strategy for Canada on October 24, 2016. The goal of the Healthy Eating Strategy is to create a food environment where the healthier choice is the easier choice. Chronic diseases are a major public health concern in Canada. Unhealthy diets high in saturated fat, sugars and sodium are one of the top risk factors for obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.

Health Canada is proposing to introduce mandatory front-of-package labelling for foods that are high in nutrients of public health concern, namely saturated fat, sugars and/or sodium. Front-of-package labelling will provide quick and easy guidance to help you make informed choices about packaged foods and help improve the nutritional quality of packaged foods available in the marketplace.

Health Canada is launching a consultation on front-of-package labelling. The official Canada Gazette, Part I consultation will take place from February 10 to April 26, 2018. Please note that the Canada Gazette is available online on Friday at 2 p.m. Eastern time, ahead of its publication on Saturday.

Since we want to hear from as many Canadians as possible, we have also created a short, consumer-friendly online consultation for you to tell us which front-of-package nutrition symbol you find useful.

This consultation is open until April 26, 2018.

Your responses will help guide the choice of a nutrition symbol for the front of food packages in Canada. We invite you to participate in both front-of-package labelling consultations and to spread the news about the consultations to your family, friends and colleagues.

Click here to start the survey.