The other day, I had a friend message me and tell me that she had just been diagnosed with celiac disease, and wanted to know if I had any tips or tricks for dealing with it other than the general don’t eat gluten. So I started thinking about it and thought that it’s been a while since I wrote about my gluten-free lifestyle and that maybe it was time to revisit celiac disease.
The Problem with Gluten for Some People:
Gluten can cause many different problems for different people. But in this article, I’m going to focus on celiac disease.
Celiac Disease, is an autoimmune reaction which occurs in about 3% of the population. As many as 30 or 40 people out of every 100 have the genetic makeup to possibly develop celiac disease, but only about 3 out of every 100 develop this condition. Doctors are not sure why this happens in some and not in others, but as with many health conditions, the issue starts in your gut.
What also puzzles doctors as far as celiac disease is concerned is the fact that it can develop at any age. You may test negative at age 40, only to test positive 5 years later. In those that develop celiac disease, their immune system recognizes gluten as an enemy. These people cannot process this protein properly, and eating anything with even small amounts of gluten can cause the following symptoms.
- Weight loss
- Chronic diarrhea
- Abdominal pain and bloating
- Behavioral issues
- Defects in dental enamel
- Short physical stature
- Delayed puberty and growth
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
All in all, there are more than 200 symptoms of celiac disease. If you develop this condition as an adult, there is a strong belief that you will have few or no digestive symptoms. That was not the case with me. I was 28 when I was diagnosed with celiac. My symptoms, according to my gastroenterologist, were classic. Severe weight-loss, (think down to 95 pounds), diarrhea, severe stomach cramps, especially after eating, bloating, tingling in my face and hands and more. You can read more about my early stages here if you like.
However, some as adults, experience the following issues:
- Pain in your joints and bones
- Bone loss, osteoporosis or osteopenia
- Liver tract disorders, like fatty liver
- Anxiety and depression
- A numbness or tingling in your hands and feet
- Irregular menstrual periods
- Migraines or seizures
- Canker sores
If the symptoms unfortunately look familiar, talk to your doctor. A simple blood test is all that is needed to see if celiac disease is suggested. If this is the case, a biopsy of your small intestine is usually required to confirm the diagnosis. Just be aware that you MUST be eating gluten for you to get an accurate reading in the test results.
The inflammation caused by gluten can also create a condition known as intestinal permeability. When your gut is operating properly, it digests foods and lets nutrients, minerals, vitamins and other needed components pass into your bloodstream. It keeps everything else out, and removes unnecessary items as waste. Wheat and gluten can cause intestinal permeability, which means that your gut allows things to pass into your bloodstream which are harmful.
Gluten-related inflammation can promote a number of gastrointestinal and gut disorders, autoimmune thyroid disorders, long-term damage to the gut biome, and even brain-based health problems like brain fog, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. A number of skin conditions have been linked to wheat and gluten sensitivities, and type 1 diabetes occurs at a higher rate than normal in gluten-sensitive individuals that do not remove wheat or gluten from their diets.
Okay, enough with the scary stuff, let’s look on the sunny side of the spectrum. Whether or not your system responds negatively to wheat and/or gluten, here are a few of the major benefits you receive when you reduce or totally eliminate the gluten protein from your diet.
Your Digestive Health Improves
Ancient philosopher Hippocrates is known as the father of modern medicine. He famously stated time and again that, “All human disease begins in the gut.” In the previous section of this report, you saw how negatively wheat and gluten can impact your digestive process. Your gut and digestive tract begins to heal almost immediately when you remove gluten from your diet, and when you replace those products with high fiber vegetables and fruits, your gut will thank you.
When gluten causes intestinal permeability, all of the necessary vitamins and minerals in the foods you eat do not properly make it where they need to go. In the case of celiac disease, iron absorption is not healthy. This can leave you feeling drained and lacking in energy. Get gluten out of your life and you could notice a sizable boost in energy.
Healthier Cholesterol Levels
Many of the processed foods that contain gluten send your cholesterol level through the roof. When you replace those foods with healthier choices, like fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts and berries, your cholesterol naturally returns to a healthy level.
Lowered Chance of Chronic Disease
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and arthritis sufferers experience fewer symptoms when they cut gluten from their diets. Your risk of contracting heart disease, cancer, diabetes and becoming obese or overweight drops considerably, since you are getting unhealthy foods off of your plate, and eating healthy foods in their place.
Important Note: Those impressive benefits come with one notable caveat – people that embrace a gluten-free diet could become lacking in fiber, zinc, niacin or riboflavin. This type of eating can also cause an insufficient amount of iron, folate, thiamin, calcium, vitamin B12 and phosphorus to enter your body. If you develop any symptoms which indicate a mineral deficiency, taking vitamin, enzyme and nutrient supplements to complement a no-gluten meal plan is recommended. Talk to your doctor to help you decide what supplements you may be lacking in.
Tomorrow, I’ll be back with foods that you shouldn’t eat and foods that you can eat.
Still have questions, or think you may want help getting healthier? Let’s chat. Schedule a Free Getting Acquainted Call We’ll discuss some of the obstacles that stand in your way, and how I can help you thrive and feel your best.
By the end of this session we’ll know if we’re a good fit. You can decide if I’m the right person to guide and support you to a better, healthier version of you.
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