What is Celiac Disease?

HealthNutritionOnline Back-to-Directory A health article about Celiac Disease fromYour Health Online the A to Z directory of dealing with Health Problems & nutritional Self Care Strategies

Celiacs disease is a digestive disease that damages the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food. People who have celiac disease cannot tolerate a protein called gluten, found in wheat, rye, and barley. Gluten is found mainly in foods but may also be found in products we use every day, such as stamp and envelope adhesive, medicines, and vitamins.

In Celiac Disease gluten from diet causes an immune reaction in the small intestine that actually attacks the lining of the intestine causing tissue damage, bloating, flatulence, abdominal cramping and diarrhea. The condition results in damage to the villi on the surface of the small intestine and an inability to absorb certain nutrients from food.

This disorder is extremely disruptive in modern society where food is so much a part of our lives and restrictive diets means it is difficult to mix in normal social function.

Medical advice is that Celiac Disease is a permanent condition that will go through phases where it is sever or mild but people with the disease will have it all their lives.

It responds well to a gluten-free diet, which brings relief that is often immediate and dramatic.

Strong evidence exists to say that nutrition factors can have a dramatic effect on relieving the problem in the longer term.

Signs & Symptoms

There are no typical signs and symptoms of celiac disease. Most people with the disease have general complaints, such as intermittent diarrhea, abdominal pain and bloating. Sometimes people with celiac disease may have no gastrointestinal symptoms at all. Celiac disease symptoms can also mimic those of other conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome, gastric ulcers, Crohn's disease, parasite infections, anemia, skin disorders or a nervous condition.

Celiac disease may also present itself in less obvious ways, including irritability or depression, anemia, stomach upset, joint pain, muscle cramps, skin rash, mouth sores, dental and bone disorders (such as osteoporosis), and tingling in the legs and feet (neuropathy).

Some indications of malabsorption that may result from celiac disease include:

• Weight loss.
• Diarrhea.
• Constipation
• Weight loss/weight gain
• Abdominal cramps, gas and bloating.
• General weakness.
• Fatigue
• Bone or joint pain
• Osteoporosis, osteopenia
• Foul-smelling or grayish stools that may be fatty or oily.
• Unexplained anemia (a low count of red blood cells causing fatigue)
• Stunted growth (in children).
• Failure to thrive in infants
• Tingling numbness in the legs (from nerve damage)
• Infertility, recurrent miscarriage
• Itchy skin rash called dermatitis herpetiformis.

Dermatitis herpetiformis is an itchy, blistering skin disease that also stems from gluten intolerance. The rash usually occurs on the elbows, knees and buttocks. Dermatitis herpetiformis can cause significant intestinal damage identical to that of celiac disease. However, it may not produce noticeable digestive symptoms. This disease is treated with a gluten-free diet, in addition to medication to control the rash.

What Causes Celiac Disease?

Celiac disease is considered to be a genetic disease, meaning that it runs in families. It is considered that if the disease is in the family there is a 5 to 15% chance of family members having the problem.

Sometimes the disease is triggered—or becomes active for the first time—after surgery, pregnancy, childbirth, viral infection, or severe emotional stress.

Prevention:

The problem of Celiac Disease is considered to be a lifetime problem with no complete cure. Controlling the problem is essential to avoid long term health complications. Prevention is primarily achieved by a gluten-free diet. Details of what is generally involved with a gluten free diet are listed in the Self Care Stratagy se

When to seek Medical Advice:

If you notice or experience any of the signs or symptoms common to celiac disease, it is worth seeing your doctor. If someone in your family is known to have celiac disease, you may need to be tested. Starting the process will help you avoid complications associated with the disease, such as osteoporosis, anemia and certain types of cancer.

Seek medical attention for a child who is pale, irritable, fails to grow and who has a potbelly, flat buttocks and malodorous, bulky stools. Many other conditions can cause these same signs and symptoms, so it's important to talk to your doctor before trying a gluten-free diet.

Self Care strategies for Living with Celiac Disease

Diet change strategies:

The Gluten-free Diet A gluten-free diet means not eating foods that contain wheat (including spelt, triticale, and kamut), rye, and barley. The foods and products made from these grains are also not allowed. In other words, someone with celiac disease should not eat most grain, pasta, cereal, and many processed foods. Despite these restrictions, people with celiac disease can eat a well-balanced diet with a variety of foods, including gluten-free bread and pasta. For example, people with celiac disease can use potato, rice, soy, amaranth, quinoa, buckwheat, or bean flour instead of wheat flour. They can buy gluten-free bread, pasta, and other products from stores that carry organic foods, or order products from special food companies. Gluten-free products are increasingly available from regular stores.

Checking labels for “gluten free” is important since many corn and rice products are produced in factories that also manufacture wheat products. Hidden sources of gluten include additives such as modified food starch, preservatives, and stabilizers. Wheat and wheat products are often used as thickeners, stabilizers, and texture enhancers in foods.

“Plain” meat, fish, rice, fruits, and vegetables do not contain gluten, so people with celiac disease can eat as much of these foods as they like. Recommending that people with celiac disease avoid oats is controversial because some people have been able to eat oats without having symptoms. Scientists are currently studying whether people with celiac disease can tolerate oats. Until the studies are complete, people with celiac disease should follow their physician’s or dietitian’s advice about eating oats.

The gluten-free diet is challenging. It requires a completely new approach to eating that affects a person’s entire life. Newly diagnosed people and their families may find support groups to be particularly helpful as they learn to adjust to a new way of life. People with celiac disease have to be extremely careful about what they buy for lunch at school or work, what they purchase at the grocery store, what they eat at restaurants or parties, or what they grab for a snack. Eating out can be a challenge. If a person with celiac disease is in doubt about a menu item, ask the waiter or chef about ingredients and preparation, or if a gluten-free menu is available.

Gluten is also used in some medications. One should check with the pharmacist to learn whether medications used contain gluten. Since gluten is also sometimes used as an additive in unexpected products, it is important to read all labels. If the ingredients are not listed on the product label, the manufacturer of the product should provide the list upon request. With practice, screening for gluten becomes second nature.

Vitamin & Nutrient Associations

The issue with Celiac Disease is that the condition damages your body’s ability to ingest food, It causes your body to attack the villi in your small intestine.

Villi

Your small intestine is lined with tiny hair-like projections called villi which work to absorb vitamins minerals and other nutrients from the food you eat.. (http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/celiac-disease/DS00319/DSECTION=3)

The Mayo Clinic says ” Normally, your small intestine is lined with tiny, hair-like projections called villi. Resembling the deep pile of a plush carpet on a microscopic scale, villi work to absorb vitamins, minerals and other nutrients from the food you eat. Celiac disease results in damage to the villi. Without villi, the inner surface of the small intestine becomes less like a plush carpet and more like a tile floor, and your body is unable to absorb nutrients necessary for health and growth. Instead, nutrients such as fat, protein, vitamins and minerals are eliminated with your stool.”

As article explaining this is more detail is important to read in coming to understand how to deal wit this problem. The link is here: Nutrition for your cells

Introduction of a nutrition range into your diet is best done progressively over a reasonable period of time (some days or even some weeks) is a very powerful way to rebuild energy levels, control the issues around diet and to generally improve lifestyle. The strength of this program is that it gives the body all the nutritional factors to allow the body to actual rebuild the villi. This means that the primary area of damage, the lining of the small intestine, is being repaired at the same time as the main causative factor of the problem, gluten in food, is being reduced in, or even removed from, the diet.

Further reading through our articles on health issues will give you a body of information that will help you decide what options you have to deal with the underlying causes of your Celiac Disease problem through giving your body the nutrition products that will assist you body to heal from the inside out. We wish you well in your search for solutions to this problem and your movement towards better health in all areas.

More Resources available about Celiac Disease :

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