Diet and Nutrition

Ice Cravings Associated With Celiac Disease

Ice Cravings Associated with Celiac Disease

Ice Cravings Associated With Celiac Disease

A recent trend has been discovered that extreme ice cravings may actually indicate the presence of celiac disease. As crazy as this sounds, multiple people across the web have been discussing the oddity of this subject and what it means. A strong urge for ice is a sign of what’s called “pica,” which is the desire to eat nontraditional, usually inedible, foods. Pica commonly occurs during childhood or pregnancy, but may also be a symptom of certain diseases. 

Celiac disease is an inherited autoimmune disease. The small intestine may be damaged due to the ingestion of gluten. This in turn affects the absorption of food nutrients. When a certain gene interacts with gluten-based food, celiac disease occurs. Sometimes it is activated by pregnancy, viral infections, childbirth, surgery, or emotional stress. The body’s reaction to gluten may damage the villi, and so nutrients are not absorbed properly by the small intestine. Celiac disease causes constipation, chronic diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal bloating, fatigue, foul-smelling stool, weight loss, irritability, ADHD, dental enamel defects, and delayed puberty. Further issues can arise if celiac disease goes untreated. These include anemia and weight loss due to malnutrition. 

A variant of pica is craving ice. Normally, it occurs in children, but adults with celiac disease have also been shown to experience this. More commonly, this specific type of craving occurs during pregnancy and when iron levels are low. According to studies, some symptoms of iron deficiency, particularly glossitis, may be relieved by iron supplementation. To such people, ice may taste better.

Recent studies have shown a link between iron deficiency and celiac disease. The connection was seen in people with a gluten sensitivity who also had iron-deficiency anemia. In several ways, an iron deficiency can be caused by gluten. When the small intestine is damaged, it cannot properly absorb iron. The production of acidic cells is damaged, which is essential for iron absorption, thus causing anemia, which leads to an oxygen deficiency. A person thus may not be able to generate enough energy.

Iron forms a protein called lactoferrin in the body, which the immune system uses to fight certain infections, including viral, bacterial, fungal, and parasitic infections. Affected individuals need to eat dark chicken, beef, lamb, and turkey to replenish their iron loss. Some may include prune juice, pumpkin seeds, and raisins in their diet as well. Studies have revealed that, despite going gluten-free, some people with celiac disease still suffer from an iron deficiency, as seen through their continued signs of pica. Along with food containing iron, supplements may be required if their ferritin level is low (it should be above 45). However, these supplements can cause constipation, stomach pain, and nausea, so they should be taken with care. As a last resort, doctors may use iron bisglycinate to replenish iron levels. The levels can be tested using serum ferritin. If a person continually has low levels of iron, they should ask for this test if their doctor has not already called for it. 

Celiac disease may cause anemia. Since the condition affects the body’s absorption of iron, it is wise to monitor your iron levels if you have celiac disease. In turn, people should test themselves for celiac disease if they have cravings or pica such as glue, ice, or dirt.