Nutrition information is ever changing as science increases our knowledge of how our bodies function. This increase in information leads to new recommendations on how we can improve our health. In 2007, not that long ago, there were 100 papers published on gut health. In 2016, there were over 3000 studies on gut health. We are starting to realize the importance digestion and gut microbiota play on the health of our whole body.
What is Celiac Disease?
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease where ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine. Your small intestine is where nutrients from the food you eat are absorbed into your body. If the small intestine is damaged then the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that we get from food are not getting into your system, no matter how nutritious the food is you are eating.
Gluten is a protein that is found in wheat, barley and rye. The gluten protein makes dough elastic and gives bread its chewy texture. Gluten can be found in many breads but in beer also.
1 out of every 100 people worldwide has a problem with gluten, over 2 to 3 million Americans. Many people with celiac disease will never know they have it. The damage to the intestine is very slow and symptoms are varied so it is tough to get a proper diagnosis.
Symptoms of Celiac Disease
- Diarrhea or Constipation
- Weight loss
Non-Digestive Related Symptoms:
- Anemia – Iron deficiency
- Osteoporosis – decreased bone density
- Skin Rashes
- Mouth Ulcers
- Joint Pain
- Numbness in hands and feet
- Family history of celiac disease (Increases risk to 1 in 10)
- Females more likely than males
- Other Diseases: Colitis; Autoimmune Thyroid Disease; Addison’s Disease; Type 1 Diabetes; Down Syndrome or Turner Syndrome, Rheumatoid Arthritis
There is no specific cause but your genetic makeup and eating foods with gluten contribute to celiac disease. Contributing factors might be gastrointestinal infections, gut bacteria, or infant feeding practices.
A surgery, pregnancy, childbirth, viral infection or emotional stress can trigger celiac disease.
If you don’t get treatment of celiac disease it can lead to a whole host of new problems.
Malnutrition: If your body is not getting nutrients from the food you are eating back into your body to feed all your systems you can expect weight loss and anemia. In small children this can cause slow growth and short stature.
Bone Weakness: Malabsorption of calcium and vitamin D can lead to Osteoporosis in adults and rickets in children.
Infertility and Miscarriage
Lactose Intolerance: Small intestine damage can lead to pain a diarrhea after ingesting dairy products.
Cancer: If you don’t adopt a gluten free diet you increase your risk for intestinal lymphoma and small bowel cancer.
Nervous System Problems: seizures or peripheral neuropathy can develop.
There are 2 tests to confirm celiac disease. Serology tests look for certain antibodies in your system to confirm celiac or a genetic test to look for human leukocyte antigens which rules out celiac disease. You cannot be on a gluten free diet when taking these tests. If you are the antibodies will not be accurate. If one of these blood tests comes back positive your doctor may schedule an endoscopy. This will let your doctor look at your small intestine and take a tissue sample.
There is no cure for celiac disease. However, symptoms can be managed by going gluten free in your diet. This gluten free diet will allow the small intestine to heal.
The Possible Glyphosate Link
A study from 2013 done by The National Institute of Health argues that the increase in celiac disease could be attributed to glyphosate and herbicide exposure in the diet.
There is a definite increase in kidney failure in male agricultural workers is sugar cane fields in South America that can be directly linked to the practice of using Roundup (glyphosate) to “ripen” the sugar cane just prior to harvest.
This practice of ripening with glyphosate right before harvest ensures that glyphosate residues are present in our food supply.
This study stresses the importance of herbicides in our food that might be attacking our gut bacteria and causing illness. Nothing definitive was proven.
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