There have been a number of great leaps forward for people in this area suffering from Celiac disease, also known as gluten intolerance, in the last couple of months. In October last year there was a stand at Barga Cioccolata specially set up by the Associazione Italiana Celiachia sezione MediaValle e Garfagnana with the Chef, Marco Scaglione ( interview here ) In January this year there was a very interesting culinary and social experiment when many schools in the area served up to their pupils a gluten free menu. The comunes of Barga, Borgo a Mozzano, Coreglia and Fabbriche di Vallico all took part in the one day experiment to publicise and make more widely known the problems that gluten intolerant people have to put up with on a daily basis and also just how far the advances have been made recently in gluten free cooking. Once upon a time it was a very boring diet, but these days a completely balanced diet is possible and still be gluten free.
Proof of that can now be seen in Fornaci di Barga where the trattoria La Bionda di Nonna Mary is now offering to their clients a complete gluten free menu daily. No website for the moment but they can be contacted on 0583 75624 – shut on Wednesday’s[nggallery id=933]
Celiac disease, also known as gluten intolerance, is a genetic disorder that affects at least 1 in 150 Italians . Symptoms of celiac disease can range from the classic features, such as diarrhea, weight loss, and malnutrition, to latent symptoms such as isolated nutrient deficiencies but no gastrointestinal symptoms. The disease mostly affects people of European (especially Northern European) descent, but recent studies show that it also affects Hispanic, Black and Asian populations as well. Those affected suffer damage to the villi (shortening and villous flattening) in the lamina propria and crypt regions of their intestines when they eat specific food-grain antigens (toxic amino acid sequences) that are found in wheat, rye, and barley. Oats have traditionally been considered to be toxic to celiacs, but recent scientific studies have shown otherwise. This research is ongoing, however, and it may be too early to draw solid conclusions.
Because of the broad range of symptoms celiac disease presents, it can be difficult to diagnose. The symptoms can range from mild weakness, bone pain, and aphthous stomatitis to chronic diarrhea, abdominal bloating, and progressive weight loss. If a person with the disorder continues to eat gluten, studies have shown that he or she will increase their chances of gastrointestinal cancer by a factor of 40 to 100 times that of the normal population. Further, gastrointestinal carcinoma or lymphoma develops in up to 15 percent of patients with untreated or refractory celiac disease. It is therefore imperative that the disease is quickly and properly diagnosed so it can be treated as soon as possible.