Celiac Disease, What it is and How to Deal With it

September 12 2016

Jacqueline Rosenhek

 

What is gluten? It is the substance that is present in cereal grains such as wheat, barley or rye. Wheat is one of the most harvested crops in the entire world and makes up a huge portion of our diet. Unfortunately, there is an autoimmune disease that makes it so that someone cannot consume gluten without getting violently ill, this disease is called celiac. Celiac is a genetic disease that reacts to gluten and can be diagnosed through blood tests and biopsies taken after consuming gluten. When someone who is affected with the disease consumes gluten, the immune system attacks the gluten as soon as it reaches the small intestine destroying the villi (small fleshy projections in the small intestine that help with the absorption of nutrients) which results in a lot of bodily distress such as:

  • Abdominal pain and bloating
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Exceptionally strong smelling bowel movements
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Mood imbalance
  • Anemia
  • Bone and joint pain
  • Irregular menstrual periods
  • Canker sores in the mouth
  • Osteoporosis
  • Fertility problems
  • Delayed growth in children

 

These are caused by the damage done to the villi in the small intestine. If the villi are damaged, it becomes much harder for the body to completely absorb certain nutrients that are needed to maintain good health, especially calcium, vitamins D, A, E, K, B12, folic acid and iron. The best solution for those suffering from celiac is to just follow a gluten free diet, it can be rather restrictive but thankfully many gluten free options are coming into existence! Grains like corn, plain rice, and nuts, beans and coconut are not only good on their own, but can be converted into different food elements to replace those typically used with gluten and are full of vitamins and minerals too! Dark green leafy vegetables like spinach or kale are also a safe way for someone with celiac to gain some iron which can help with menstrual irregularity and sluggishness.  Foods like black-eyed peas, firm tofu and many different types of greens can be a fantastic source of calcium. Sadly, many of those who have celiac’s disease are also prone to lactose intolerance due to distress in the small intestines likely causing a deficiency in lactase. Celiac disease is still being figured out a fair bit by many professionals, how the disease even came to exist in the human body is still being disputed (some theorize it could be the over consumption of chemicals found in commercialized wheat based flour), however no one can deny that it can be incredibly restricting given that, as previously mentioned, wheat is one of the most utilized grains in the world and since there is no known cure yet, it is recommended to stick to a gluten free diet for life, fortunately, as natural medicine progresses, and as people become more aware of nutrition, maybe there will be a bigger selection of solutions to come.

2 years ago

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