Living with Celiac DiseaseNov 03, 2011 10:43PM ● By By Debra E. Dallas, Ph.D., MIfHI, DCNT
Celiac disease is a genetic disorder, not a food allergy or food intolerance. It is inherited from another family member, but does not have to be in the immediate family.
People that have celiac disease must not eat any foods that contain gluten. When they do, their body’s immune system reacts to the gluten by attacking the lining of the small intestine. The immune system’s reaction to gluten damages small, fingerlike growths called villi. When the villi are damaged, the body cannot get the nutrients it needs. This attack on the intestinal tract over and over again causes leaky gut syndrome, candidiasis, and many other progressive and autoimmune disorders.
A person can live a perfectly healthy life if the disease is diagnosed early. The problem is most people suffer for years before a correct diagnosis has been reached and much damage has occurred in the body. It is not isolated to the intestinal tract; it may start there, but definitely does not stop there.
When people learn that they have celiac disease it is a life changing experience. A Celiac must eat gluten-free forever, for the rest of their lives, no exception. Although for most people, life as they know it is over, it doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Most people’s diet leaves room for improvement and most of us only eat 20 or so foods anyway. The trick is to replace the foods that have gluten with the same foods that are made gluten-free. Eliminating our favorite gluten foods is not necessary; simply substituting them is the key.
Signs and Symptoms
Celiac disease often goes undiagnosed for years because the symptoms are easily confusing with other intestinal disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), lactose intolerance or Crohn’s disease. Only a lucky few are diagnosed early and when they are, so much damage has occurred that recovery takes a long time.
Some common symptoms of celiac disease are nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and bloating, migraines, rashes, ulcers in the mouth, inflammation in the arteries, constipation, diarrhea, and more. Symptoms can vary greatly from individual to individual, and even among family members.
Left undiagnosed or ignored, celiac disease can cause complications over time that result in chronic diseases, cancer and even death. People that suffer from celiac disease should educate themselves of the detrimental effects of “cheating” or simply ignoring their condition. There is no such thing as taking a day off or having just one bite—eating gluten-free is every meal, every day. Even a tiny bit of gluten will initiate an immune cascade that will damage all the tiny immature microvillus that were just starting to grow back, which puts us right back at square one.
Essentials For Healing
After diagnosis, how can we heal the damage that has occurred in the intestinal tract? It depends on the severity of the damage. Following a gluten-free diet will usually greatly improve and may even completely resolve symptoms, heal existing intestinal damage, and prevent further problems. Healing completely involves a restoration of the intestinal villi that can absorb nutrients from food into the bloodstream as well as keep the gut from leaking.
Leaky gut results in much nutrient loss, therefore a good whole food liquid multivitamin is recommended. A good colloidal mineral can help replace the lost minerals. Other nutrients that are known to heal the intestinal tract are reduced L-glutathione, gamma oryzanol, and N-acetyl-D-glucosamine—all of which can be found at health food stores.
Debra E. Dallas is the founder of the Dallas Wellness Center at 4048 Freemansburg Avenue in Easton. She earned her Bachelors of Science in Holistic Nutrition and her Masters of Science in Natural Health from Clayton College of Natural Health. Dallas helps clients understand the interaction of food and their health using iridology, hair analysis, blood typing and herbal supplementation. Call 610-253-1977 or visit DallasWellnessCenterLLC.com for more information.