LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Celiac disease impacts around 3 million people and yet there is a lack of knowledge about the autoimmune disease.
People with celiac disease can’t eat gluten because it will damage their small intestine. As a result, navigating food choices can be a landmine because so many foods contain gluten. If the disease goes untreated it could lead to other disorders like cancer and infertility.
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye and is toxic to those with celiac. It can also be found in things like soups and dressings so its important to read all food labels.
Lisa Smith is a celiac survivor and advocate for discussing what it’s like living with the autoimmune disease and wrote the book “Gluten Free Las Vegas.”
“A lot of people have a story similiar to mine, they were sick for a long time and they couldn’t figure out what it was they had. So, for me with infertility, I would have a lot of bloating, joint pain. I was pretty miserable because I was sick all the time. Everyone always made it seem like it was in my head. For me, finally getting that diagnoses was really freeing,” Smith said.
She and her mother who also has celiac started a Gluten Free Las Vegas website to make it easier for people to find options around the Las Vegas valley.
Smith also says joining a local support group, even if it’s on Facebook is really helpful. There are websites such as this one that has more details.