The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) and Mambo Sprouts are teaming up to raise awareness of celiac disease and the gluten-free lifestyle. It’s Celiac Awarness Month.

At first glance I thought it said Celtic awareness month, I had never heard of celiac disease (duh moment).  After reading about the disease I took more of a personal interest. My husband just had part of his intestines and appendix taken out last Wednesday. He got home from the hospital yesterday and he is still in a lot of pain, he can’t urinate on his own, and he is nauseas and that’s almost a week after his surgery. I started reading the signs and symptoms of this disease and they sound similar to his complications. I am not saying that he has Celiac disease, they diagnosed him with diverticulitis but I can’t help wonder if his diet had been different if it would have made a difference. I am sure that all the chemicals in today’s food didn’t help either.

Like I said earlier I had never heard of Celiac disease until now. There is a reason I was meant to read about this disease and maybe you are too.

According to NFCA Celiac disease is an autoimmune digestive disease that damages the villi of the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food. Essentially the body is attacking itself every time a person with celiac consumes gluten.

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Celiac disease is triggered by consumption of the protein called gluten, which is found in wheat, barley and rye. When people with celiac disease eat foods containing gluten, their immune system responds by damaging the finger-like villi of the small intestine. When the villi become damaged, the body is unable to absorb nutrients into the bloodstream, which can lead to malnourishment.

Left untreated, people with celiac disease can develop further complications such as other autoimmune diseases, osteoporosis, thyroid disease, and cancer.

Mambo Sprouts Marketing released a survey revealing how organic consumers seek functional foods and reasons why they are turning to gluten free foods.

Mambo Sprouts Marketing MamboTrack™ research revealed 8 in 10 natural and organic consumers regularly read ingredient labels for health and nutrition content and were interested in buying functional foods with added health, nutrition and dietary benefits, with four in ten (39%) very interested in these types of specialty foods.

Consumers expressed the most desire for foods with organic ingredients (65%) and low sodium grocery items (47%) followed by low fat/cholesterol (39%) and vegetarian items (31%). Functional food products with added calcium (44%), Omega 3 (44%), anti-oxidants (43%), probiotics/prebiotics (38%), and Vitamin D (30%) were also preferred.

With Celiac Awareness Month upon us, the study noted interest in specific ingredient-free foods, with one in three natural product consumers seeking allergen free foods. Shoppers were most likely to report buying gluten free/wheat free items (25%), followed by dairy free foods (9%). Fewer avoided soy (6%) or peanuts (4%).

Bread (59%), cereal (56%), chips and snacks (54%), and pasta (46%) were the most popular gluten free products.

Consumers are turning to gluten free foods for a variety of reasons. More than four in ten gluten free buyers felt gluten free products were healthier for their family (43%). Another one in three (34%) had a household member with celiac disease or wheat intolerance or indicated that their favorite brands were gluten free already (36%).

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Packaging is a key factor in brand buying decisions. Four in 10 (40%) recently tried a new brand or switched brands, specifically because it had more earth friendly packaging.

Two in three bought products with recyclable packaging or packaging made of recycled materials (66%) and 44% bought products with compostable/biodegradable packaging. New eco packaging options of most interest among 1 in 2 included: compostable/biodegradable, reusable and refillable product packaging.

The Mambo Sprouts Marketing Quick Poll was completed online among 600 MamboTrack health and natural product consumers between April 19th – April 26th, 2010. MamboTrack research is offered by Mambo Sprouts Marketing, the leader in natural, organic and green product marketing, coupon and promotional services. Visit more information.

I would like to thank Mambo Sprouts and NFCA for informing me of this disease. I just asked my husband to talk to his MD on Tuesday about this condition. I feel for his pain and if he can avoid any further complication I’d like to know. Please eat healthy, take care of yourself, your family and your environment.

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