Does Where You Live Affect Your Likelihood of Developing Celiac Disease?

  • By andrea.n.langston
  • 09 May, 2017
Does geography impact celiac disease development?

A study published in February found that people living north of certain latitudes in the US were more likely to have celiac disease.

Breaking it down:

·        The study included over 22,000 people across the United States

·        A total of 0.7 percent of those interviewed had been diagnosed with celiac disease

·        In the lowest latitudes, (35 degrees latitude and below) only 0.2 percent of the participants had CD. (For reference, this is south of Memphis, Charlotte, and Santa Fe)

·        The prevalence rose to 0.6 percent in those living at latitudes between 35 and 40.

·        In latitudes 40 degrees and further north, 1.2 percent of people interviewed had CD. (40 degrees latitude includes cities such as New York City, Boulder, Colorado, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)

Interestingly, another study published the same month estimated the rate of celiac disease to be 3.1 percent in adolescents in Denver, CO. Denver is located just above 39 degrees latitude.

Some other notes:

·        The first study also found a higher prevalence of CD in those with more than twelve years of education. (My assumption would be that this link may correlate with an increased ability and likelihood to go to the doctor regularly and have the means to get tested for various conditions.)

·        An increased prevalence of CD was also found in those who were overweight or obese. This is quite interesting considering that in the past, people with celiac disease were thought to be underweight and malnourished (although you can absolutely be overweight or obese and malnourished as well).

Although these are just two studies and we can’t really make sweeping conclusions based on them, it brings additional questions to mind, such as:

·        Is an increased prevalence of CD in higher latitudes consistent around the world or only in the US?

·        Could the risk of CD be related to vitamin D levels, as those north of 40 degrees are likely exposed to less natural sunlight throughout the year?

·        Could the higher incidence be, at least in part, due to higher diagnosis, not necessarily higher susceptibility? (Maybe doctors in the northern latitudes are more likely to suspect and test for CD than those in the south for various reasons?)

·        If 1.2 percent of people in northern latitudes had CD, what percentage of people are still undiagnosed?

·        Does the study showing an increased prevalence of CD in adolescents in Denver indicate a link to higher risk of CD due to location, and/or age? Could the younger generations have a higher rate of diagnosis due to new risk factors?

Of course, these are all questions that require more research. Although we do not have the answers to many of the questions regarding celiac disease, research in this area continues to expand, and more and more clues are being uncovered that have the potential to help with understanding, diagnosis, treatment, and maybe even prevention of celiac disease down the road.


Here are links to the two articles referenced above:


Copyright © 2017 Thrive Nutrition & Wellness, LLC

Thrive Nutrition & Wellness

By andrea.n.langston 31 May, 2017
Many people, after going gluten free, feel much better very quickly. Other people take more time. Everyone's body is unique and the length of time you've been dealing with symptoms and damage to you gastrointestinal tract varies, therefore the time it takes to repair the damage will vary as well. Children and younger people tend to bounce back more quickly, while older adults may take longer simply because our bodies regenerate and repair themselves more slowly as we get older.

If you've been on a gluten free diet for some time and are not experiencing improvements, it can be helpful to consult with an expert. It is possible that you are still being exposed to gluten in your foods or environment. It is also possible that there are additional food intolerances at play. These are often not long-term sensitivities, but are an issue until your body has been able to repair the damage to the small intestines.

Common culprits are dairy products, oats (even certified gluten free ones), other whole grains, and a category of foods that are high in specific types of compounds, commonly known as FODMAPS.

If you just aren't feeling as good as you know you should, or are struggling with the gluten free diet in general, please do not hesitate to reach out to me or another professional with expertise in celiac disease. As a Certified Nutrition Specialist with a master's degree in nutrition and also diagnosed with celiac disease, I have both the personal and professional experience to help you figure out what is going on and get you back to feeling your best!

Contact me for more information.
By andrea.n.langston 30 May, 2017
My goal for Celiac Disease Awareness Month is primarily to inform and educate people on celiac disease specifically, hence the name.  However, any talk of celiac disease is not complete without discussion of non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS). Outside of the varying extremes of a gluten free diet undertaken for celiac disease and those following it in hopes of losing weight or because their favorite celebrity is doing it, there are people who are sensitive to gluten but do not test positive for celiac disease. The name for this is non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS), more often referred to as "gluten sensitivity," and becoming more accepted as a true health issue in the medical world.

People with NCGS do not test positive for antibodies or have the same villous atrophy that those with celiac disease do, yet they experience true negative impacts from ingesting gluten, including gastrointestinal problems, fatigue, brain fog and headaches. They are not experiencing an autoimmune condition, but that does not mean that gluten's impact on their symptoms and quality of life is not real.

In fact, studies have shown that gluten can increase intestinal permeability in anyone. So although the damage to the gut may not be as extreme as in those with celiac disease, there are people without celiac disease who can truly benefit from a gluten free diet. There have been documented improvements in patients with Hashimoto's thyroiditis, MS, migraines, and even autism when people remove gluten from their diet. For anyone beginning a gluten free diet, especially someone hoping to use it therapeutically to help with a health condition, it is important to make sure you are meeting all of your nutrient needs, which is where an experienced nutrition professional can be a huge help.

There is no diagnostic test for NCGS, it is more a condition of exclusion. If all testing has been completed and celiac disease is ruled out, (as well as wheat allergy) but avoiding gluten improves the symptoms, you are said to have NCGS or be gluten sensitive. At this point it does not seem that NCGS brings any increased health risks, however, someone experiencing it likely has compromised gut health which can lead to a wide array of other health concerns. Depending on the underlying cause of the gluten sensitivity, there is a chance that healing the gut through nutrition and lifestyle changes could allow tolerance of gluten again, or at least reduce or eliminate symptoms and reduce the risks of additional health concerns in the future.

For more information on Gluten Sensitivity, I like the information shared on

By andrea.n.langston 26 May, 2017
By andrea.n.langston 24 May, 2017
By andrea.n.langston 23 May, 2017
This is a great list of the many symptoms people with celiac disease can experience. Many people, including doctors and other health professionals, think that someone must have gastrointestinal complaints in order to have CD, but that is not true. Many people do, but many do not. Oftentimes people do not even realize all of the symptoms they are experiencing that are related to celiac disease until long after diagnosis when they begin to piece clues together.

If you think you might have celiac disease, talk to your doctor. They can send you for a simple blood test to find out if it is a possibility.
By andrea.n.langston 21 May, 2017
By andrea.n.langston 19 May, 2017
If you have celiac disease, it's important to be aware of places that hidden and trace gluten can hide. Small amounts of gluten can be enough to cause damage to your small intestines, antibodies to be produced, and symptoms to be experienced.
Gluten can be found in unexpected places, often as a result of processing and packaging, but also as ingredients that are not clearly identified on labels. In the US, wheat must be called out on foods, but barley and rye (and oats which may be cross contaminated unless certified GF) do not.
By andrea.n.langston 18 May, 2017
Are you or someone you care about graduating high school in the next year or two and beginning to look into colleges?

If you or that person has celiac disease or is gluten sensitive, this decision could be a lot more complicated than cost, academics or location. Unfortunately, for those with celiac disease, a food intolerance or food allergy, the availability of safe meals is a major factor.

When you live on campus, access to food is often limited, gluten free products may not be widely available, and food service staff may not understand the importance of your diet or the impact of cross contamination. With all of the changes students undergo during the transition to college, it would be nice if food didn't have to be a concern as well.

Maybe it doesn't have to be! Some colleges and universities are catching on to the fact that, according to top celiac disease researcher Dr. Fasano, five to 10 percent of college students may be gluten intolerant. This is a substantial part of the population and there are some schools that are becoming known for being gluten-free friendly. Recently, two colleges have even opened the first certified gluten free dining halls - and one of these is in New York State!

Here's information about 14 schools across the US that recognize and supposedly cater to those with CD and gluten intolerance:

Recently, the New York Times published this story on two colleges with certified GF dining halls:

Hopefully, this is a trend that continues to grow.
By andrea.n.langston 17 May, 2017
By andrea.n.langston 16 May, 2017

Did you know that many personal care products, including lotions, shampoos, conditioners, makeup, toothpaste and lip balm can contain gluten?

Experts agree that gluten on the skin does not get absorbed in a way that can harm the digestive system of someone with celiac disease, even in the case of dermatitis herpetiformis (a skin manifestation of celiac disease). However, certain products should be purchased gluten free.

Any product that goes in your mouth or on your lips is likely to be ingested and could therefore cause symptoms and damage just like gluten in food. It is important to make sure these items are gluten free.

For most people, this includes lip balm, lipstick, toothpaste, and mouthwash at a minimum.

I am also careful with any personal care products that I may inadvertently ingest, including lotion, hand sanitizer and most makeup. Shampoo, conditioner, and body wash are other items to consider purchasing gluten free. This is especially important to think about as the parent of a child with celiac disease, as kids are quite likely to accidentally get these products in their mouths. Your level of strictness in purchasing your personal products is up to you, but if you are at all concerned about the possibility of getting certain products getting into your mouth, I would purchase them gluten free. Many people figure, why risk the possibility if they can find products that they like?

Check your personal products, some may be labeled gluten free. If they aren’t, you may need to do a little digging to find out if they contain gluten or not. You can check online or call the company directly.

To give you a head start, here are some recently updated articles with information about gluten free products:




Lip balm

More Posts
Share by: