Are you Gluten Intolerant?

September 9, 2010 at 8:04 pm Leave a comment

Many of you who are coming to my blog may be unaware that September is Celiac Awareness month. What is Celiac disease and why should you become aware?

Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disorder of the digestive system that damages the small intestine and interferes with nutrient absorption. People who have celiac disease cannot ingest a sticky gooey protein called gluten. This protein is found in wheat, rye, barley and a few other grains. When gluten is ingested the gut reacts by sending antibodies to attack what it thinks is a foreign body. The immune system reacts attacking the villi, the small fingerlike protrusions in the lining of the small intestine and either damages them or destroys them. Because these villi are essential to nutrient uptake and absorption, a person who has undiagnosed celiac can actually become malnourished even though they are eating regularly.

The disease has a genetic origin and sometimes may only surface after disruptive life events such as surgery, pregnancy, or viral infections. It can be a critical diagnosis for children in that nutrient absorption is essential to normal growth and development.

Gluten can be found in food but can also be found in many common products including toothpastes, medicines, lip balms and more. Gluten sensitivity is much more common than you might think. Sometimes the disorder can go undiagnosed for years. Many of the symptoms can be confused with IBS and other digestive disorders. Common symptoms include cramping, bloating constipation and/or diarrhea, alternating constipation or diarrhea, abdominal pain, weight loss or weight gain, and unexplained anemia. If left undiagnosed, the disease can develop into conditions such as cancer1, osteoprorosis2, and others.

With a gluten free diet that is completely free of the protein as well as processed foods healing can take place. Often improvement can be noticed within a few days.

Although you may not have celiac disease, eliminating wheat, gluten and processed foods from the diet can only help your overall health. Stay tuned for more on this topic in months to come.

If you are interested in finding out more about being gluten free, ask your health coach or medical professional.

1Freeman HJ. “Adult celiac disease and its malignant complications.” Gut Liver 2009. 3(4):237-46.

2 National Digestive Diseases Information Clearing House.

http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/celiac/

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