Miss Universe 2021 Harnaaz Sandhu, who is currently in India, recently walked the ramp for designer duo Shivan and Narresh at the Lakme Fashion Week. While she was appreciated for her stunning style, many trolled her for her weight gain.

Addressing the same, she recently opened up about her struggle with celiac disease. “Many people do not know I am allergic to gluten. I’m one of those individuals who was first bullied that ‘she’s too skinny’ and now they bully me by saying ‘she’s fat’. Nobody knows about my celiac disease. That I can’t eat wheat flour and many other things,” she was quoted as saying by PTI.

Further, she explained how one’s body undergoes a host of changes due to geographic changes. “When you go to a village, you see changes in your body. And I went to New York for the very first time, it’s is a whole other world altogether.”

What is celiac disease?

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder caused when you eat gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. “If someone suffering from celiac disease eats food which contains gluten, their body overreacts to the protein and damages their villi, small finger-like projections found along the wall of their small intestine. And if your villi are injured, your small intestine not able to absorb nutrients from food,” Payal Sharma, Senior Dietitian and Nutritionist, Dharamshila Narayana Superspeciality Hospital said.

According to the expert, celiac disease can lead to malnourishment, loss of bone density, miscarriage, infertility or neurological diseases and certain cancers.

Symptoms

While some symptoms such as weight loss, diarrhoea and constipation among others are common in both adults and children, here are some varied symptoms experienced by people with celiac disease, as shared by Dr Sharma.

In Adults

*Abdominal pain
*Anemia
*Bone or joint pain
*Heartburn
*Dermatitis, herpetiformis
*Headaches or fatigue
*Mouth ulcers
*Nausea
*Nervous system injury
*Numbness or tingling hands or feet

In children

*Bloating or belly swelling
*Constipation
*Diarrhea
*Pale, foul-smelling poop
*Upset stomach or vomiting
*Weight loss

How does it impact one’s weight?

Dr Sharma explained that celiac disease can trigger malnutrition due to malabsorption, in which nutrients cannot be absorbed properly by the body. “People with malabsorption are usually underweight, that’s why doctors usually don’t consider a diagnosis of celiac disease in people who are overweight,” she told indianexpress.com.

Prevention

While there is no medication or surgical treatment that treats celiac disease, it is advised to consume gluten-free food to avoid health problems.

“The only way to manage the symptoms of celiac disease is to strictly follow a gluten-free diet. Gluten-free food lets your small intestine heal and stops future problems and inflammation. People who are suffering from celiac disease need to avoid food made with wheat and wheat flour,” the expert said.

Foods that must be avoided and consumed

To eliminate the health risks triggered by celiac disease, avoid foods such as beer, baked items, cereals, pasta or noodles, wheat, graham, einkorn wheat, rye, barley, malt, yeast and wheat starch.

On the contrary, you can opt for gluten-free options such as fruits, vegetables, meat and poultry, fish and other seafood, dairy, beans and nuts, rice, corn or maize, soy, potato, beans, quinoa, millet, flax, chia and nut flours.

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