Elisabeth Hasselbeck is Gluten-free at last

Elizabeth Hasselbeck, survivor of Season 2 of Survivor, and  co-host on The View, reveals that she has struggled with Celiac Disease for over a decade in a new memoir/diet book entitled “The G Free Diet”. For years, Elizabeth complained  of intestinal symptoms of cramps, indigestion, diarrhea as well as severe fatigue. Misdiagnosed as having irritable bowel disease, she eventually “diagnosed herself ” while on Survivor. During the month long, severely restricted diet, her symptoms went away, and she became stronger and healthier. Misdiagnosis of celiac disease is fairly common as described in Dr. Jerome Groupman’s book How Doctors Think (or don’t).

Celiac disease is a disease that damages the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food. People who have the disease cannot tolerate gluten, a protein in wheat, rye, and barley. When exposed to gluten, the body produces an abnormal immune response to it, attacking the lining of small intestine (specifically the small fingerlike projections called villi) where digestion takes place. This leads to the symptoms of celiac disease:

• abdominal bloating and pain
• chronic diarrhea
• vomiting
• constipation
• pale, foul-smelling, or fatty stool
• weight loss

Adults are less likely to have digestive symptoms and may instead have one or more of the following:

  • unexplained iron-deficiency anemia
  • fatigue
  • bone or joint pain
  • arthritis
  • bone loss or osteoporosis
  • depression or anxiety
  • tingling numbness in the hands and feet
  • seizures
  • missed menstrual periods
  • infertility or recurrent miscarriage
  • canker sores inside the mouth
  • an itchy skin rash called dermatitis herpetiformis


Gluten is found mainly in foods but may also be found in everyday products such as medicines, vitamins, and lip balms. Treatment consists of the strict elimination of foods containing gluten.

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Mark Boguski, M.D., Ph.D. is on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and is a member of the Society for Participatory Medicine, "a movement in which networked patients shift from being mere passengers to responsible drivers of their health" and in which professional health care providers encourage "empowered patients" and value them as full partners in managing their health and wellness.

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