Jennifer Esposito's Coeliac Showdown

Last updated on 23rd Oct 2012 06:19am

It's rare that Hollywood gossip has a link to health and nutrition, so when it does, we'd like to add our twopenneth!

CBS hit 'Blue Bloods' (we get it on Sky Atlantic in the UK) is missing a character after they have reportedly forced a 'leave of absence' on coeliac sufferer Jennifer Esposito who played the partner to Donnie Whalberg's Detective Danny Reagan. She has tweeted her fury at the network's implication that she is not really ill, and inflexibility to work with her health needs and doctor's recommendations to reduce workload. 

This story highlights the too-frequent misunderstanding and ignorance regarding coeliac disease (spelt celiac in the US and other countries), which is an autoimmune condition where a reaction to gluten causes damage to the lining of the intestine. Because it causes so much damage to the cell lining of the gut, many important nutrients are not digested or absorbed properly, leading to bloating, cramps, tiredness, inflamed joints, susceptibility to infection, and unhealthy skin, nails and hair. It is notoriously difficult to get a diagnosis and many sufferers experience symptoms for many years without knowing how to improve the situation. 

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye grains, along with some types of oats. So avoiding these foods is the first step on the road to recovery. Unfortunately this can be difficult because things like wheat flour sneak into unlikely places as well as the obvious ones like bread, pasta, cereal, cakes, etc. A coeliac needs to read the labels and spot the hidden ingredients in soups, sauces, salad dressings, ready meals, sausages, etc. 

There are many healing steps in the form of diet and supplements that can be taken to help repair the gut lining, strengthen the immune system, switch off inflammation and replenish the gut flora. 

Do some research, see a nutritionist, or ask us for further advice. A helpful website is Coeliac Uk: www.coeliac.org.uk. 

By Claire Harper, The Nutrition Guide

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