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What Should You Know About Celiac Disease?

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What Should You Know About Celiac Disease?

Gastro Science | Posted on 03/04/2023 by Dr. Anil Kumar Jangid



Grains in our culture are considered to be sacred because they are life-giving. Grains like barley, wheat, rye, etc. are converted into flour so that it can be used extensively across various cuisines. You need flour to make most dishes, be it the comforting roti, the fancy pizza or the cupcakes.

Undoubtedly, we need flour to make food, but what if you learned that you are allergic to the exact thing that gives you life? Most flour available contains a protein named gluten. It helps in binding the flour and gives it a sticky texture. It is a harmless ingredient for the majority of people, but people who are allergic to it can be very dangerous.

If you are allergic to gluten, your body begins to attack itself and works hard against the protein, and ends up harming the intestines.  It can cause devastating and long-term effects apart from instant uneasiness. If your small intestines are damaged, it becomes complex to absorb nutrients. Ultimately, this malabsorption causes various diseases and deficiencies linked to malnourishment.

Gluten allergy is referred to as celiac disease which is an autoimmune disease. It is not a simple allergic reaction but a deadly attack initiated by the immune system. The best way to make sure that gluten doesn’t harm you is to avoid it. The only and best way to avoid gluten is to cut all the gluten sources from your diet. There is comprehensive information that we will share in this blog so make sure to give it a read till the end.

What is celiac disease?

Celiac disease also known as gluten intolerance, & gluten-sensitive enteropathy is a reaction to gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, oats, and similar grains. The reaction results in damaging the lining of the small intestine, which not only induces uncomfortable physical symptoms but also prevents the digestive system from absorbing important nutrients, leading to significant health issues. Individuals suffering from untreated celiac disease eventually suffer from malnutrition no matter how much nutritious food they consume.

 

What causes celiac disease?

Celiac disease is essentially the result of gluten sensitivity within the intestines. The exact cause of the celiac disease is unknown, but its effects are well documented. The small intestine is lined with areas known as villi, which are critical to the absorption of nutrients. When a gluten-intolerant person consumes gluten, the immune system reacts by attacking the villi. The result is a damaged intestinal lining that cannot capably absorb nutrients. Celiac disease can develop in individuals of any age, from infancy to adulthood. It is more commonly observed in women than men.

 

What are the celiac disease symptoms?

Celiac disease symptoms can vary widely making the diagnosis very difficult. The more common symptoms include:

  •  Bloating and gas
  •  Decreased or increased appetite
  •  Unexplained weight loss and fatigue
  •  Indigestion and abdominal pain
  •  Lactose intolerance
  •  Constipation
  •  Nausea and vomiting
  •  Constant or intermittent diarrhoea
  •  Joint pain and muscle cramps
  •  Bruising, hair loss, and itchy skin
  •  Depression or anxiety
  •  Mouth ulcers and nose bleeds
  •  Missed menstruation
  •  Seizures

 

How is celiac disease diagnosed?

Your doctor will diagnose the condition based on your symptoms. The following are the ways to diagnose the disease:

  •  Blood work for certain antibodies
  •  Cholesterol test
  •  Alkaline phosphatase level test
  •  Serum albumin test
  •  Complete blood test to detect anemia
  •  Liver and kidney panel

Make sure to visit your doctor as other tests could be recommended, depending on your case. Additionally, if you are diagnosed with celiac disease, you must follow the diet plan given by your doctor. You can also get in touch with a professional nutritionist as they can guide you better about your nutritional and vitamin requirements.

 

How is celiac disease treated?

The only way for treating celiac disease is permanently remove gluten from the diet. Removing gluten from your diet will allow your intestinal villi to heal and absorb the nutrients well. Your doctor will instruct you on how to avoid gluten while ensuring proper nutrition and a healthy diet. The doctor will also guide you on how to read the labels of products so that it is easier for you to identify ingredients containing gluten.

You will notice improvements within days of removing gluten from your diet. However, you can eat gluten until the diagnosis is confirmed. Removing gluten suddenly can interfere with test results and might cause an inappropriate diagnosis.

 

Food precautions

If you have been diagnosed with celiac disease, it is crucial to understand which food options are safe for you. Following is a series of food options that you must avoid:

  • Rye
  • Barley
  • Triticale
  • Wheat
  • Semolina
  • Graham flour

You should also avoid the following options as well unless the label says gluten-free:

  • Cakes and pies
  • Bread
  • Beer
  • Cereals
  • Crackers
  • Cookies
  • Gravies
  • Pasta
  • Salad dressings
  • Soups

Gluten-free options

Here are gluten-free options that you can include in your diet:

  • Arrowroot
  • Cornmeal
  • Corn
  • Buckwheat
  • Quinoa
  • Rice
  • Tapioca

 

Conclusion

Most people who are diagnosed with celiac disease and have stopped including gluten in their diet have an excellent prognosis. If you are diagnosed with celiac disease, avoiding gluten at first may seem daunting. But, you will learn to read the labels and watch out for unintentional eating.  You will find an abundance of resources available to navigate your new diet. You can also consider getting in touch with support groups and references available online. Celiac disease certainly will change your lifestyle and diet forever, but it will be for the better. Before you were diagnosed, you were almost consuming gluten and doing harm to the small intestine. But now that you know, you can restore your health by following your healthcare provider's guidelines.

 

FAQs

Can celiac disease be cured?

No, there is no cure for celiac disease. The only way to prevent the damage caused by this condition is to follow a strict-gluten free diet as it helps manage the symptoms and promotes intestinal healing.

Is celiac disease genetic?

There is clear evidence of whether celiac disease is genetic or not. However, it is believed that it tends to cluster in families. Parents, children, or siblings have around a 4-15% chance of growing this disorder. However, the pattern is not known.

Can celiac disease cause osteoporosis?

Yes, osteoporosis is a complication caused by untreated celiac disease. Calcium is required to build and maintain healthy bones. People who have the celiac disease even after consuming enough calcium are usually deficient leading to osteoporosis.

Does celiac disease cause inflammation?

Yes, celiac disease causes an inappropriate immune system activation which leads to inflammation damaging the body's organs.

What can happen if celiac disease goes untreated?

If celiac disease is left untreated, then it causes malnutrition. Small intestines become incapable of absorbing sufficient nutrients. It also causes weight loss and anaemia.