Signs You May Have Celiac Disease
Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition where the immune system attacks the small intestine when individuals eat gluten (a protein found in grains like wheat, barley and rye). Celiac disease affects at least one percent of those in the United States, or around 3.3 million people. Did you know that most of them are undiagnosed? The disease can cause distressing and debilitating symptoms which may vary widely between individuals. That’s why many people remain undiagnosed.
The following symptoms are possible:
This is the most typical symptom of celiac disease, and also one of the most distressing. It's estimated around half of adults with celiac disease experience diarrhea. It tends to be more common in children than adults. Following a gluten free diet can provide relief from diarrhoea.
Abdominal bloating or cramps
Celiac disease causes inflammation to the lining of the small intestine. Along with bloating and cramps, some people experience intestinal gas and nausea.
In people with celiac disease, ingesting gluten damages the villi, which are hair like projections on the lining of the small intestine. Nutrients from food are absorbed by the villi. If the villi are damaged, a person can’t absorb nutrients properly and ends up malnourished, no matter how much they eat. One sign of malnutrition can be weight loss. This is more common in children than adults. It is also possible to be overweight and have celiac disease. Certainly not everyone loses weight.
This is a major problem for the majority of celiacs. Fatigue results from nutrient deficiencies as a result of malabsorption. Iron deficiency is incredibly common in celiacs and is often the symptom that leads to diagnosis of the condition. Fatigue also results from the chronic inflammation, where the immune cells release a host of inflammatory chemicals every time a celiac eats gluten. Fatigue can take a long time to resolve.
Most people don’t consider symptoms like anxiety or depression when they think of celiac disease, but they are actually very common. So too are brain fog and sleeping problems. Nutrient deficiencies and inflammation adversely affect the brain and nerves, raising the risk of these problems.
If you suspect you may have celiac disease it’s important not to guess. Please see your doctor for a proper diagnosis.
How to heal your gut
Remove all gluten from your diet
There is no such thing as a low gluten diet. A celiac must remove every trace of gluten if they hope to heal the inflammation in their gut. Some people also need to remove dairy products, legumes and sugar. Other potentially problematic foods include all grains, eggs and nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, potatoes, capsicum and eggplant). These foods contain various proteins that may inflame the gut lining in some people. Lectins, saponins and enzyme inhibitors can impair digestion and increase intestinal permeability. This is explained thoroughly in the book Healing Autoimmune Disease. In addition, any food to which you have an allergy or intolerance can inflame your gut when you consume it.
Correct gut bug imbalances
Dysbiosis means having too much bad bacteria, Candida or other microbes in the bowel and not enough good microbes. These harmful bugs inflame the gut lining and inhibit nutrient absorption. It is important to correct this imbalance with an herbal anti-parasitic formula, and with the diet changes mentioned above. Another common problem is Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO). This means there are too many microbes growing in the small intestine, where they shouldn’t be. They aren’t necessarily bad bugs, they’re just living in the wrong place. SIBO commonly causes nutrient deficiencies and it is strongly linked with restless legs syndrome. Sometimes a low FODMAP diet is necessary in order to overcome SIBO.
Improve digestive function
Deficiencies of stomach acid, bile and digestive enzymes are almost always present in people with an inflamed gut. It is critically important that you digest your food as thoroughly as possible. This will enable you to absorb the maximum amount of nutrients from your food, but there’s also another reason. If you don’t digest your food properly, it will literally rot or ferment inside your gut. The residues of undigested carbohydrate in particular, will act as food for harmful gut microbes, or encourage their growth in the small intestine, creating SIBO and a leaky gut. These wastes that aren't being digested properly will also leave you feeling dreadful. Common symptoms include bloating, gas, foggy head, low mood, anxiety or low motivation. Supplementing with hydrochloric acid, digestive enzymes and ox bile can be immensely helpful.
Heal and seal the gut
There are specific foods and nutrients that help to reduce inflammation in the digestive tract and restore the health of the intestinal lining. We need to make it a stronger barrier, so that you don’t keep absorbing toxins and wastes into your bloodstream.
The most important substances to heal a leaky gut are glutamine, berberine, zinc and vitamin A. For more information about leaky gut and gluten see the book Gluten: Is it making you sick or overweight?
The above statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease.