What We Learned From Chelsea's Wedding Cake

Food allergies aren't anything to celebrate.
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What We Learned From Chelsea’s Wedding Cake

Food allergies aren’t anything to celebrate.

-Jane Farrell

Chelsea Clinton's wedding cake

If you’re like most people, you’ve probably known only vaguely about gluten and gluten-free foods. But Chelsea Clinton’s recent insistence on a gluten-free cake brought it to public attention, and celebrities at the Oscars and Emmy Awards got gluten-free snacks as part of their goody bags.

Basically, gluten—what you don’t want—is a protein mixture that’s contained in grains like wheat, rice and barley. And that’s bad news for people like Chelsea, who reportedly suffers from food allergies. Gluten is linked to celiac disease, a genetic condition that is set off by eating gluten and can cause damage to the small intestine. Other people, who may have just a gluten intolerance rather than celiac disease, have similar symptoms: stomach problems, tiredness and anxiety.

Celiac disease cases are on the rise. According to the Mayo Clinic, a test involving frozen blood samples showed that fifty years ago, cases of celiac disease were one quarter as common as they are now. According to federal statistics, more than two million Americans suffer from celiac disease, and many of them are undiagnosed. Often that’s because symptoms –persistent gas and bloating, changes in bowel movements, weight loss and fatigue–can seem vague or indicative of several diseases.

Read Top Dietitians’ Top Foods, Part 1

The illness can be diagnosed through biopsies, blood tests or genetic testing; unfortunately, there’s no cure. But the condition can be managed by adjusting your diet, and that’s where gluten-free foods come in. Although gluten’s found in a lot of yummy stuff like cookies and pizza crust, there are terrific alternatives that taste just as good.

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