Celiac Patients Demand Gluten-Free Food Products

Celiac Patients Demand Gluten-Free Food ProductsCeliac Patients Demand Gluten-Free Food Products

In a letter addressed to Health Minister Seyyed Hassan Qazizadeh Hashemi, people suffering from celiac disease have complained about lack of gluten-free food products in the market,

According to the letter, over 700,000 people in Iran are diagnosed with celiac disease, a genetic autoimmune disorder where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine.

“Moreover, there also are patients who show allergic reactions to gluten, which would raise the figure of people in need of gluten-free products to about three million,” the letter said, IRNA reported.

So far, no treatment has been found for celiac disease, and hence the only option for those suffering is lifelong adherence to a strict gluten-free diet.

Following negotiations between the Iranian Celiac Support Society and some food manufacturers, a handful of companies now produce gluten-free bread. However, the price is not affordable to all and the breads are not widely available, particularly in cities other than Tehran.

Some celiac patients also suffer from diabetes and have to take drugs free of gluten; which, according to the signatories of the letter, are not easily available. Only one Iranian pharmaceutical company currently produces gluten-free medicine but not all the required medicines.

To make the matter worse for patients, the letter went on to complain that import of gluten-free medicine is banned by law on the grounds that “Iranian companies produce what is needed.”

Celiac disease is estimated to affect 1 in 100 people worldwide. When people with celiac disease eat gluten (a protein found in wheat, rye and barley), their body mounts an immune response that attacks the small intestine.

Left untreated, celiac disease can lead to additional serious health problems. These include the development of other autoimmune disorders like type-I diabetes and multiple sclerosis, iron deficiency anemia, early onset osteoporosis, infertility and miscarriage, neurological conditions like epilepsy, migraines, and intestinal cancers.

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