Living Well with Celiac Disease

June 18th, 2013 by Dr. Keith Nemec

Celiac disease, also known as celiac sprue or gluten sensitive enteropathy, is an autoimmune disorder that affects the digestive system, and most specifically the small intestine. People suffering from celiac disease have a hyper sensitivity to gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. Over time, exposure to gluten in the diet causes damage to the small intestine, inhibiting its ability to absorb nutrients. This can lead to malnutrition in individuals with celiac disease, regardless of how well they are eating. Over time, celiac disease can weaken the intestinal lining, leading to leaky gut syndrome and allowing bacteria, toxins, and waste to “leak” from the intestine into the bloodstream. It is estimated that celiac disease affects 1 in every 100 people, though that number may be significantly higher as there have been very few comprehensive studies of the disorder. Those affected by celiac disease know only too well just how challenging it can be to live with this chronic disorder. But by understanding the condition, and making some shrewd lifestyle choices, it is possible to live well despite a diagnosis of celiac disease.

Causes and Symptoms

There appears to be a genetic component to celiac disease, and the condition tends to run in families. Indeed, people who have a family member who has been diagnosed with the disorder are at a significantly higher risk for developing celiac disease themselves. Like many autoimmune disorders, celiac’s can be triggered by physical stressors, for example surgery, sever viral infection, pregnancy or childbirth. It can also be triggered by severe emotional stress. The most common symptom of celiac disease include chronic abdominal bloating and pain, weight loss, diarrhea, fatigue, anemia and bone pain. Often, celiac’s is misdiagnosed as these symptoms are common to a number of digestive and intestinal disorders.

Treating Celiac Disease

The best treatment for celiac disease is healing the root of the inflammation in the intestinal tract. This is done by balancing the nervous system, hormonal system, digestive and elimination systems, including checking for food sensitivities and parasites and other intestinal pathogens along with adopting a gluten free diet, and sticking to it. Even small amounts of gluten can cause damage to the small intestine. This will mean avoiding all foods containing wheat, barley, rye and oats. Unfortunately, gluten can turn up where it is least expected, and people living with celiac’s will need to train themselves to read product labels carefully. Gluten can be found in many prepared foods, usually used as a starch or stabilizer, and is also found in many over the counter supplements and medications. That’s the bad news.

The good news is that embracing a gluten free diet is easier than it has ever been. Most fresh fruits and vegetables are gluten free, and transitioning to a vegetarian based diet can relieve many of the symptoms of celiac disease. Artichokes, Avocados, eggplant, sweet potatoes, peppers, seeds, nuts, mushrooms….the list goes on and on and all form the basis of a healthy diet for both celiac and non-celiac sufferers.

Remember to Take Your Supplements

Living well with celiac’s is not only about removing gluten from the diet. Typically, people with celiac disease suffer from vitamin deficiencies, so it is vital that they enhance their diet with all natural nutritional supplements. Natural multivitamin and minerals  with the full range of B vitamins should be taken regularly to ensure that all daily nutritional needs are met.

More Good News

The really good news for celiac sufferers is that by balancing these systems of the body, being checked for food sensitivities and removing any parasites, pathogenic bacteria and yeast and following a gluten-free diet they can eliminate most, if not all, of their symptoms. Moreover, the small intestine will begin to repair itself, and further damage can be avoided. Improvements will begin almost immediately, but celiac sufferers should understand that the healing process takes time, and it may take up to two years for the small intestine to fully repair the damage it has sustained.

When you change the environment you change the outcome. All things are possible for those who believe.  Celiac sufferers can find relief form their symptoms and return their bodies to the total health God intended.

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