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Living the Gluten-Free Good Life in Finland

Finland has one of the highest rates of celiac disease in the world.

Finland has one of the world's highest celiac rates, and gluten-free food is common. Photo: CC--Sepi V. 07/19/2017 - Ever wondered what life is like in the celiac disease capital of the world?

In Finland, an estimated 2.4 percent of adults from 30 to 64 years old, and one in 99 children are diagnosed with celiac disease. The country also holds the record for the most overall cases of the celiac disease in the world. If ever there was a world headquarters for celiac disease, it would be Finland.

One of the best things about Finland is that awareness of keliaka (celiac disease) is common, and gluten-free food is readily available. Throughout the country, most folks you run into know some friend, colleague or family member with the condition. Everyone seems to be aware that celiac disease results from an adverse gut reaction gluten, a protein in wheat, barley and rye products.

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Meanwhile, supermarkets, high-end restaurants, convenience stores, fast-food joints, gas stations, and even international fast food chains like McDonald’s offer gluten-free options.

As a nation, Finland places a heavy emphasis on research, diagnostics or government support for celiac disease. The nation embraces people who follow what the Finns call gluteeniton, or a ‘gluten-free’ diet.

So if you’re looking for the closest thing to a gluten-free paradise on earth, consider a visit to Finland.

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4 Responses:

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said this on
25 Jul 2017 10:18:33 AM PDT
My first question is why does Finland have such a high proportion of celiac disease? Some of my ancestors came from that area--perhaps that is why I have it? Would they see high rates of celiac disease in areas where Fins settled in the US? That would establish a genetic link rather than environmental.

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said this on
25 Jul 2017 4:27:49 PM PDT
The GF offerings at supermarkets, restaurants, convenience stores, fast-food and international fast food chains are inadequate in the US. The processed food manufacturers are struggling to develop an egg substitute that "reacts" like an egg does during the baking process. Companies are uninformed regarding the toxins in heat-extracted oils (canola, sunflower, safflower & other seed oils & some brands of olive oils). Many do not have exclusive GF environments for their products. Additionally, there are different degrees of "leaky gut" syndrome in celiacs. What manufactures have not come to realize is that a person who cannot consume: gluten, egg, yeast and dairy cannot be concerned with the higher manufacturing costs. Those of us who have nothing available in the processed food isles are willing to spend what is necessary for "safe" products. More often than not I return from the store and remind myself of an old saying; "If I don´t cook it, I don´t eat it!" I will be doing research regarding the above keliaka disease. No Finlandia in my history, but there is other Celtic background.

Peg Weidemann
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said this on
26 Jul 2017 12:21:37 PM PDT
Interesting - I remember reading somewhere that celiac rates (like other autoimmune diseases) are associated with low sunlight areas (vitamin D deficiency?)

Deb Fuller
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said this on
28 Jul 2017 6:28:12 AM PDT
Doctors do not address celiac disease well here in the United States. I know so many who have self-diagnosed because doctors are not their friends (me included). This article said it as well: "One of the best things about Finland is that awareness of keliaka (celiac disease) is common,"If doctors were on top of this disease here in the United States, our statistics would be just as high as Finland, in my unprofessional opinion.

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