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Celiac disease often goes undetected

Bookmark and Share At 60, Skip Elmer had been privately enduring painful gastrointestinal symptoms for nearly half his life. He tried many times to self-diagnose and modify his diet, always without relief. Finally, in 2005, when he had no appetite for a Thanksgiving meal, he promised his wife he would seek help.

Skip was referred to Virtua gastroenterologist Boris Libster, DO, who recommended that he be tested for celiac-sprue. A simple blood antibody test was positive, and Dr. Libster performed an endoscopy, which confirmed the effects of the disease. The tiny finger-like villi of the small intestine called celia, were flattened, inflamed and unable to function.

Not to be confused with an allergy, celiac-sprue is an immunological condition associated with intolerance to gluten, a protein in wheat and other grains. "The treatment for the disease is the complete elimination of gluten in the diet," says Dr. Libster. "If patients adhere to the diet, they can see a dramatic improvement in their health within a very short period of time." Studies show that about one percent of the population has celiac disease and the disease can be inherited.

Finding the silver lining
As a partner of a long-established Voorhees restaurant, Skip was driven to help others affected with celiac disease to find an alternative to wheat pasta. His restaurant features an extensive gluten-free menu that has helped the restaurant develop a loyal following. For information, call 1-888-Virtua-3.

"Unlike a diet, you can't cheat with celiac disease," says Skip. "Since dining out is such a big part of our lives, I'm happy to offer my customers delicious gluten-free food choices."