Probiotics and Gluten-Free Foods for Celiac Disease Diet


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Bowel diseases are numerous and unpleasant. Among them, celiac disease is perhaps one of the strangest and least understood. The condition is believed to stem from an abnormal reaction of the small intestines to gluten proteins, which triggers a sort of self-destructive immune response within the upper bowels. Fortunately, there is a growing body of scientific research which supports the use of beneficial probiotics and eating gluten-free foods, as part of your Celiac Disease diet, can help alleviate those uncomfortable symptoms.

Gluten is commonly found in a variety of foods and provides shape and texture. Healthy bodies are able to digest gluten like any other food. In patients who suffer from celiac disease however, gluten is treated very much like a severe allergen, and the presence of even small amounts an trigger intense flare-ups.

Common Foods to Avoid (Unless Labeled Gluten-Free)

  • Beer
  • Bread
  • Candy
  • Cereal
  • Fries
  • Artificial/Processed Meat
  • Pastas
  • Salad Dressing and Other Sauces
  • Potato/Tortilla Chips

How Does Gluten Aggravate Celiac Disease?

The lining of the small intestines are covered with delicate, specialized tissue called villi. The name, which means “shaggy hairs” in Latin, accurately describes their appearance. Villi are responsible for the uptake of vital nutrients from food, and for patients with celiac disease, they can also become a source of agonizing pain.

When gluten proteins become entangled in the intestinal villi of a person with celiac disease, their body’s defense mechanism mistakenly attacks the gluten AND the villi. This interrupts the absorption of vitamins and minerals and can ignite a range of painful side effects. Typical symptoms of celiac disease include abdominal pain due to gas and bloating, constipation and diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. These can be periodic or constant depending on the individual.

Over time, the diminished ability to process nutrients can also lead to more serious issues such as anemia, depression, fatigue and body aches, even hair loss and stunted growth in children.

How Can Probiotics Possibly Alleviate Celiac Disease?

Researchers have had a great deal of success reducing the symptoms of a number of different digestive conditions using readily available strains of beneficial probiotic bacteria. During a recent study, scientists at the National Spanish Research Council in Valencia, Spain, created an artificial small intestine and synthesized the internal effects of the disease [1].

According to the Spanish researchers, experimentation with a variety of probiotic strains showed great potential in improving the resilience of intestinal tissue, as well as reducing the immune system’s overall hostility towards it. And although real world human medical trials are still needed, the use of probiotic bifidobacteria, specifically, appears especially promising as a long term option for patients with celiac disease.

Are you sensitive to gluten or do you have celiac disease? Have you had success with probiotics or other Celiac Disease diet? Leave a comment and we’ll discuss!

- Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, ND, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM

References:

  1. Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. Gut bacteria offer new insights and hope for people with celiac disease. ScienceDaily. 2010 May 1.

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  • Alicia

    I have Celiac Disease and I have taken very good probiotics for a couple of years now. I have noticed that if I go a day or two without them, I don’t do very well.

    I think the probiotics aren’t doing enough for me though. A wonderful doctor that I had the pleasure of working with for awhile, suggested that I try the GAPS diet because her medical group had seen dozens of patients heal and rid the body of all allergies after being on the diet for 2 years. This diet was truly what made a big difference for my daughter and I both. We feel much better when we are on the GAPS diet. This diet incorporates using homemade cultured vegetables and homemade yogurt. The prebiotics and probiotics in these homemade foods, seem to work much better than any high quality probiotic we have taken. Regularly consuming these probiotic rich foods, seems to crowd out the bad bacteria much better than taking pills. We wanted to share this with you because many have actually gotten rid of their gluten allergy after being on the diet 2 years. This is very exciting for our family and could be helpful to many others suffering from Celiac (we also suffer from Hashimoto’s and don’t want to wait around for Type 1 Diabetes). We have talked to a few people that got rid of their gluten allergy and Hashimoto’s!! We are thrilled that the GAPS diet people recently came out with a nice and easy cookbook called Internal Bliss and an instructional DVD to teach people how to make these cultured veggies and yogurts at home! Very exciting.

    I still take probiotic pills because I do feel that they are helpful. Just not as helpful and as beneficial as the probiotic rich foods.

  • Hannah

    I’m not sure if I actually have Celiac disease or not but anytime I would have a food product with wheat in it, I would get a really bad stomach ache and be constipated for days. I have grown up with what the doctors called “chronic stomach aches and chronic constipation.” However, when I ended up in the hospital because of it, they just said I had IBS. We started going to Exodus Chiropractics and they helped us change our diet. We stopped eating wheat products and I was on probiotics and now I am completely cured! I even tested to see if going gluten free was what cured my stomach aches and constipation by eating wheat again and my stomach aches started coming back. I know that being gluten free has definately helped my health and quality of life!

  • E.F.Nelson

    I haven’t been diagnosed, but I do have a violent reaction to gluten. I have been taken Heather Peppermint Oil capsules when I have ingested (accidentally) something with gluten. They seem to help immensely. I also regularly take probiotics they seem to do the trick.

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