Healthy Living

A Beginner's Guide to Celiac Disease

A Beginner's Guide to Celiac Disease

Celiac disease is a genetic autoimmune disease that causes patients to suffer attacks to the small intestine whenever they ingest products that contain gluten. It’s estimated that worldwide, one in one hundred people suffer from celiac disease, and approximately two and a half million people in the United States go undiagnosed.

How Does Celiac Disease Work?

People with celiac disease are allergic to gluten, the generic name for a group of proteins found in most grain products. It can quite literally be considered a glue that helps food to retain its shape. When gluten is consumed by people with celiac, their bodies cause the immune system to attack the small intestine. The villi inside of the intestines, which are the small protrusions responsible for absorbing nutrients, become damaged over time, so the nutrients from food cannot be absorbed into the body.

Eventually, this disease results in people becoming malnourished, even though they eat, and puts them at risk for developing a host of other autoimmune diseases, such as type 1 diabetes, osteoporosis, infertility issues (possibly being prone to miscarriages), intestinal cancers, and some neurological conditions such as migraines and epilepsy.

Since people with celiac disease are allergic to gluten, the immune system may mistakenly attack the small intestine if they consume gluten. Over time, the villi are damaged, affecting the body’s absorption of food. This causes malnourishment and an increased risk of autoimmune diseases, such as osteoporosis, type 1 diabetes, and infertility issues. In children and adults, the symptoms of celiac disease are similar, but there are certain things a child will be prone to that an adult won’t be. If anyone else in the immediate or extended family suffers from the disease, the symptoms may alert the parent. Symptoms in toddlers include a bloated and painful abdomen, fatty or foul-smelling stool, failure to thrive, and short stature. Symptoms in older children are diarrhea, chronic vomiting, short stature for their age group, irritability, and weight loss. You may have a gluten sensitivity if your symptoms go away and then reappear.

There is no true test for celiac disease, but to determine the likelihood of the condition arising, a series of tests can be run, which include IgA antigliadin antibodies, IgG anti-gliadin antibodies, IgA anti-endomysial antibodies, Total IgA antibodies, tissue transglutaminase, an intestinal biopsy, and genetic testing with HLA DQ 2 and HLA DQ 8.

In the past few years, gluten-free options have become more widely available in restaurants and grocery stores, but for some, these additions may be too expensive. To make up for the lack of gluten-binding properties, some gluten-free products, such as cookies, loaves, and pies, may have as many as twenty additional ingredients. However, the problem of cost can be solved by incorporating whole fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, chicken, fish, and eggs into one’s diet. Use gluten-free ingredients in recipes like almond or coconut flour. With celiac disease, it is not impossible to eat out at restaurants; gluten-free options are now offered by many restaurant chains. The first thing to do is to call the restaurant to find out if they have gluten-free options. If the menu is available online, all the better, as the person can make the right choice even before they reach the restaurant. People with this condition should also carry their own snacks and pack their own lunches for work. You can opt for gluten-free products that are rich in fiber like as seeds, nuts, and fruits such as blueberries. These are easy options that make the stomach feel and stay full. Once you start following a gluten-free diet, you may feel everything is all right, but the condition needs to be closely monitored since, along with celiac disease, certain secondary diseases and disorders may arise, too. Symptoms that indicate celiac disease should be addressed and managed immediately.

Celiac disease and gluten sensitivity are two different things: people with a gluten sensitivity can eat gluten, although they may experience bloating and discomfort from it, but their body will still receive nutrition. Celiac disease, on the other hand, can become life-threatening if left untreated.