National Celiac Awareness Month
National Celiac Awareness Month
“It’s an autoimmune disease, not a food allergy.”
What is Celiac Disease exactly?
Celiac is actually believe to be a rare disease that affects about 1% or less of adults. For every one person who is diagnosed with Celiac, another six go unnoticed and undiagnosed. Most people who suffer from this disease don’t even know it! Symptoms for this disease can be as simple as a cramp or extensive as neurological illness.
But first, gluten…
What is gluten? Gluten is a type of protein that is found in grains including wheat, barely, and rye. Now gluten can be a sneaky little thing. Often it can be found in packaged goods due to highly processed chemical additives. Gluten also makes up about 80% of the amino acids found in the grains mentioned above.
And although it is not actually found in other grains like oats, quinoa, rice or corn, due to modern food processing in factories, these machines ofter cause cross contamination.
“But wait, I’ve had a test for Celiac and it was negative, yet I still suffer from all the symptoms!”
How is gluten intolerance different from Celiac Disease?
Celiac is a diagnosed disorder when you have a true allergy to gluten. If you may believe that you have Celiac Disease you can ask your doctor to perform testing. Interesting enough, even though someone can test negative to celiac, there is still a chance that you have an intolerance.
Recently in the medical field an new term was coined, non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS). What does this mean? Someone who still experiences these symptoms and both gastrointestinal and non-gastro symptoms (like leaky gut, bloating and brain fog) could potentially fall into this new category.
You may be asking yourself, well what are the symptoms. How do I know if I would even have Celiac or a NCGS?
There are both short term and long term effects that happen within the body when you have a gluten allergy.
Damage that is done due to both diseases go beyond just your gastro tract. These symptoms can even show up in every system of your body.
This includes, but is not limited to:
- central nervous system
- skeletal system
Since gluten intolerance can also lead to autoimmune reactions and cause inflammation, it can be associated with other diseases like thyroid disorders, arthritis, colitis, and diabetes.
Symptoms can include:
- IBS Symptoms (abdominal pain, cramping, bloating, constipation, diarrhea)
- “brain fog”
- frequent headaches
- mood related changes
- low energy levels
- muscle and joint pain
- skin issues
- nutrient defiendes
What causes Celiac?
Gluten reacting symptoms can be caused by your over all diet, damage to the gut flora, your immune system, genetics, and even your hormonal balance. Anti-nutrients are also to blame here. These guys are substances naturally presented in plant foods. Plants contain these “toxins” anti-nutrients as a defense mechanism.
When someone is attacking us, what do we do? We defend ourselves correct? Well, since plants do not have the capability to do this, when these substances are ingested (ie. grains, legumes, nuts and seeds) they release this “toxin” into the consumer which causes indigestion and bloating. With this anti-nutrient ingested, leaving this bacteria in our guts, it can damage the lining of our gut causing “leaky gut syndrome”.
How do I begin the healing process?
There are different ways to test yourself if you have Celiac or NCGS. Try giving the elimination diet a go. What you need to do is remove anything gluten related from your diet for a whole thirty days. After this elimination period, reintroduce one item that has gluten in it back into your diet. Wait to see the results.
Nothing happened? GREAT, then you can continue to eat gluten. You may have a sensitivity, intolerance, or allergy to another food group.
You had a reactions? Alright, so head on over to your doctor and have more testing done.
Where do I go from here?
You’ve been diagnosed with Celiac or NCGS. You will now need to follow a gluten free diet. Now -a-days it’s become a lot easier to maneuver the grocery store and restaurants. Most labels will state if the item is gluten free as well as restaurants providing dedicated gluten free menus.
Just remember a few key things.
Whole foods are the best foods. Other than the grains stated above, eating protein, carbohydrates, and fats that come from the earth and are natural are your best options.
Read the labels. If you purchase a packaged item (boxed, fresh, frozen, etc.), just read the labels. Most items that are gluten free will be noted somewhere on the packaging.
When in doubt, pass. If you’re still unsure, don’t take the chance. There is nothing worse than eating something that is going to cause your body discomfort, ESPECIALLY when dining out. Always ask questions, don’t be afraid to make substitutions, and use your common sense.
Looking to learn more?
Whether you’ve recently diagnosed with Celiac, think you have a gluten allergy, or just want to know more, head on over here!