What is Celiac Disease?

Celiac disease means a gluten free diet

Celiac disease is an allergy to dietary gluten. It affects individuals who are genetically predisposed to the allergy and differs from gluten sensitivity, as celiac disease elicits within the body a very defined response to gluten. [1]

When gluten enters the small intestine in an individual with celiac disease, the body initiates an immune response. The cause of the response has been identified as gliadin, one of two proteins that comprise gluten. The autoimmune response gliadin triggers creates intestinal redness and irritation.

Over time, the mucosal layer of the intestine is reduced. This layer protects the intestinal wall from toxins — without this, the chance of toxins crossing from the intestine into the blood stream increases. This layer also facilitates the absorption of nutrition into the body. Malnourishment coupled with intestinal irritation is an extremely unpleasant combination.

Left unaddressed, celiac disease can cause serious complications. What’s the best way to address celiac disease? Avoid gluten. A gluten-free diet can prevent the allergic response and has been observed to reverse many of the problems associated with celiac disease.

Causes of Celiac Disease

Celiac disease results from a genetically-induced allergy. Foods that contain gluten trigger the immune response and include cereal grains such as wheat, rye and barley contain gluten. Be aware that many processed foods contain gluten to enhance flavoring and protein content.

Symptoms of Celiac Disease

Symptoms of celiac disease can be identified in one of two categories. The first consist of the intestinal symptoms — bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea, steathorrea, flatulence and Irritable Bowel Syndrome. The second category of symptoms consists of health and medical complications resulting from regular gluten consumption. Common complications associated with celiac disease include dermatitis herpatiformis, osteoporosis, weight loss and fatigue. Recent research has associated gluten consumption to additional chronic, and in some cases very serious, medical conditions.

Dangers of Celiac Disease

Individuals with celiac disease who continue to consume gluten regularly put themselves at risk of more serious conditions. Some of these more serious conditions include:

1. Brain Injury

Studies have found individuals suffering from Celiac Disease present brain abnormalities and damage to the nervous system. [2] Lesions similar to those found on patients with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) have even been observed. [3]

2. Chronic Headaches

Headaches and migraines can occur with regular frequency as a result of damage to, and the malfunctioning of, the nervous system. [4]

3. Seizures

Damage to the brain and nervous system resulting from autoimmune response to gluten consumption can manifest in the form of seizures. [5]

4. Height

Male children who develop with Celiac Disease have been found to attain a shorter stature than their peers. There is good news. For boys who have Celiac Disease that adhere to a gluten-free diet, ‘catch-up’ growth can occur. [6]

Celiac Disease has been associated with other serious problem, including hearing problems, inadequate nutrient absorption and early onset cardio vascular disease.[7] [8] [9] Ultimately, if celiac disease is even suspected, a medical evaluation should be sought.

What Can Be Done?

As celiac disease is a gluten allergy, the easiest solution is to adopt a gluten free diet. Research shows that conditions of celiac disease are potentially reversible once a gluten free diet is adopted. Some people have also found additional support by taking probiotics to support their digestive system.

Has celiac disease affected you or someone you know? Please leave a comment below and share your experience with us.

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

References:

  1. Ludvigsson JF, Leffler DA, Bai JC, Biagi F, Fasano A, Green PH, Hadjivassiliou M, Kaukinen K, Kelly CP, Leonard JN, Lundin KE, Murray JA, Sanders DS, Walker MM, Zingone F, Ciacci C. The Oslo definitions for coeliac disease and related terms. Gut. 2013 Jan;62(1):43-52. doi: 10.1136/gutjnl-2011-301346. Epub 2012 Feb 16.
  2. Bilgic B, Aygun D, Arslan AB, Bayram A, Akyuz F, Sencer S, Hanagasi HA. Silent neurological involvement in biopsy-defined coeliac patients. Neurol Sci. 2013 Apr 25.
  3. Brown KJ, Jewells V, Herfarth H, Castillo M. White matter lesions suggestive of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis attributed to celiac disease. AJNR Am J Neuroradiol. 2010 May;31(5):880-1. doi: 10.3174/ajnr.A1826. Epub 2009 Nov 12.
  4. Ford RP. The gluten syndrome: a neurological disease. Med Hypotheses. 2009 Sep;73(3):438-40. doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2009.03.037. Epub 2009 Apr 29.
  5. Devinsky O, Schein A, Najjar S. Epilepsy associated with systemic autoimmune disorders. Epilepsy Curr. 2013 Mar;13(2):62-8. doi: 10.5698/1535-7597-13.2.62.
  6. Sonti R, Lebwohl B, Lewis SK, Abu Daya H, Klavan H, Aguilar K, Green PH. Men with celiac disease are shorter than their peers in the general population. Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2013 Jun 5.
  7. Solmaz F, Unal F, Apuhan T. Celiac disease and sensorineural hearing loss in children. Acta Otolaryngol. 2012 Feb;132(2):146-51. doi: 10.3109/00016489.2011.635384.
  8. Martin J, Geisel T, Maresch C, Krieger K, Stein J. Inadequate nutrient intake in patients with celiac disease: results from a german dietary survey. Digestion. 2013;87(4):240-6. doi: 10.1159/000348850. Epub 2013 Jun 6.
  9. De Marchi S, Chiarioni G, Prior M, Arosio E. Young adults with coeliac disease may be at increased risk of early atherosclerosis. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2013 Jul;38(2):162-9. doi: 10.1111/apt.12360. Epub 2013 Jun 3.

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  • SP

    Research retrieved from the Natural Standard database notes that in a limited study, Lactobacillus GG was associated with reduced symptoms of certain autoimmune disorders, like rheumatoid arthritis. However, these findings were not statistically significant. Probiotics show very good anti-inflammatory properties, and are widely used for diarrhea (receiving an evidence grade of A from the Natural Standard) and gastrointestinal conditions such as IBS and Ulcerative Colitis (receiving an evidence grade of B from the Natural Standard for both of these ailments). More studies on the effects of probiotics on Celiac disease are needed.

  • Edward Group

    Thanks SP, I’d love to see more research into the benefits of probiotics.
    -Dr. G

  • jo christy

    It is good to know about these issues. I was suffering from the irritable bowel syndrome and used to have frequent diarrhea. After the diagnosis, I was confirmed with the celiac disease. I could only feed myself with the gluten free diet and probiotic food like yogurt. Though this was a tough time for me regarding the diet, I overcame it and able to become normal. I had a good support from my doctor. Also thanks for posting this information which can help many people to know what is celiac disease.

  • Edward Group

    Thanks for reading Jo!

  • daisayrose@gmail.com

    By going through this post we can get the clear picture about the celiac disease causes and symptoms. Thanks for sharing this info and it will help most of the people to know about this disease. Diet can play major role to avoid the disease. Gluten causes the inflammation in the small intestine with celiac disease. Gluten found in grains such as wheat, barley, rye and triticale. Avoid these foods to get out of this problem. Always recommended to take gluten
    free diet which includes beans, seeds, nuts in their natural, fresh eggs, fresh meat, fish, fruits and vegetables. Make sure that they are not processed or mixed with gluten.

    Many grains and starches can be part of gluten free diet such as flax, corn, buckwheat, rice, tapioca and soy. By consuming these foods we can avoid celiac disease.

  • Edward Group

    Excellent info, thanks for sharing!

  • CytheriaUrs

    Hello Daisay, First of all I would like to say thanks to author, for posting such a valuable info regarding Celiac Disease. I usually consume high amount of fibers through wheat, barley and beans. I knew that fiber is good to maintain a healthy colon and also it is helpful in avoiding the constipation issues. As a vegan, could I provide sufficient amount of fiber without wheat and barley?
    Please let me know.

  • daisayrose@gmail.com

    Hi Cytheria…. Its good to hear that you are consuming fiber. Fiber can easily pass through the body with taking harmful toxins out of the body and it can act as a appetite suppressant, it will helpful for weight loss too. If you consume more grains such as wheat, barley and rye they will lead to celiac diseases. All these are gluten foods and gluten causes inflammation in intestines with celiac disease. So avoid these foods and add fiber rich foods like leafy vegetables, apples, pineapples, spinach, flax seeds and fish for good colon health.

  • CytheriaUrs

    As a vegetarian except fish I can consume all the fiber food sources which you have suggested. Thanks for giving your patience to read my words and for your response.

  • daisayrose@gmail.com

    You are welcome. Feel free to ask any queries regarding diet and colon health. If possible share your inputs on health which will help to the people who are in need and useful information always appreciable like the
    information which was posted in this blog.

  • JuanitaFrapp

    Thanks author for great article, honestly I appreciate your efforts for sharing useful informative and thanks to Daisay you have explained the whole article in short form and its really informative. Really diet play an major role for any kind of disease suppose a person consuming a healthy natural food and regularly active in physical exercise those kind of person are really fit and energetic. Once again thanks a lot for insightful article.

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