Did you know that it can take 4 – 11 years to be diagnosed with celiac? This sounds way too long for someone to be suffering from mystery symptoms with no answers. Last summer Dan found out that he has celiac disease. This was after seeing several doctors, many urgent care visits and a hospital visit! This was shocking but at the same time it was a relief to have answers and know how to move forward.
What is Celiac Disease?
Celiac was once a rare disease and today is considered one of the top autoimmune diseases. It has actually increased by 5xs since 1975! Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease where the body has an immune reaction to consuming gluten. Gluten causes inflammation in the body which disrupts the intestinal villas and gastrointestinal tract. This affects the proper absorption of vitamins and minerals and can lead to other health conditions.
Foods That Contain Gluten
The most common foods that contain gluten are wheat, rye and barley. However gluten is also hidden in some of the most unexpected food items such as some salad dressing brands, soy sauce, seasonings, soups, some candies and even some potato salads. Flour is commonly used by many companies to thicken foods like sauces and dressings. Be sure to read food labels and see if it contains wheat or flour.
Common symptoms are diarrhea, bloating, constipation, abdominal pain, inflammation, infertility, weight loss, iron deficiency, malnutrition and osteoporosis due to lack of vitamin D absorption. Some people even experience a rash called dermatitis herpetiformis that affects 15% - 25% of celiac patients. Dan was one of the few that had this terrible rash! Now looking back we know that Dan had this rash when he consumed high amounts of gluten combined with stress. Stress can be mental or physical stress.
How To Manage Celiac Disease and The Possibility of Cross-Contamination
The only treatment for celiac disease is a life long gluten-free diet to allow healing to the small intestine. It is important to consume nutrient dense whole foods and fiber to ensure you are getting enough vitamins and minerals.
Taking a probiotic can help recover the immune system and improve intestinal permeability caused by eating gluten. The body's microbiome is made up of a community of microorganisms that work hard to keep up a strong immune system by fighting off the harmful bacteria and assisting in healthy digestion. A study published in Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology, February 2013 shows that taking probiotic Bifidobacterium improves intestinal permeability and reduces symptoms in untreated celiac disease patients.
Be sure you are getting enough vitamin D. Studies showed that vitamin D was the most common deficiency at 70% and was still deficient even on a gluten-free diet. Vitamin D plays an important role in our body's health. Deficiencies in vitamin D have been linked to other conditions such as osteoporosis, cancer, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and autoimmune diseases. Vitamin D can be found in fish, eggs, mushrooms, fortified dairy foods, tofu and sunlight.
Be aware of cross-contamination. Do not share kitchen utensils and ask questions if you are not preparing your own food. Cross-contamination can happen easily. For example if someone is cooking a flour tortilla be sure to use a different pan to then cook a corn tortilla.
If you accidentally consume gluten you can take active charcoal. This helps bind the gluten and any toxins in the intestines to carry out of the body.
Celiac disease can be difficult to diagnose. For many years Dan experienced intestinal issues and 5yrs ago he had a painful mystery rash that would come and go throughout those 5yrs. He was told by many doctors that it was just a heat rash or an allergy. He was sent home with prednisone which usually helped, until one day the prednisone didn't! He went to the hospital covered in a rash. We are so grateful that the doctor working in the ER that night recognized that rash to be dermatitis herpetiformis. Since then we have been gluten-free and he no longer has intestinal issues, inflammation in his joints and no more rashes!!
If you feel you may have symptoms of celiac disease there is various test that can be done to confirm this.
Natural History of Celiac Disease Autoimmunity in a USA Cohort Followed since 1974 Carlo Catassi, Debby Kryszak, Bushra Bhatti, Craig Sturgeon, KathyHelzlsouer, Sandra L. Clipp, Daniel Gelfond, Elaine Puppa, Anthony Sferruzza & Alessio Fasano(2010) Natural history of celiac disease autoimmunity in a USA cohort followed since 1974, Annals of Medicine, 42:7, 530-538, DOI: 10.3109/07853890.2010.514285 https://doi.org/10.3109/07853890.2010.514285
Exploratory, Randomized, Double-blind, Placebo-controlled Study on the Effects of Bifidobacterium infantis Natren Life Start Strain Super Strain in Active Celiac Disease. Smecuol, Edgardo MD*,†; Hwang, Hui J. MD*; Sugai, Emilia MD*; Corso, Laura MD‡; Cherñavsky, Alejandra C. MD§; Bellavite, Franco P. MD*; González, Andrea MD‡; Vodánovich, Florencia MD§; Moreno, María L. MD*; Vázquez, Horacio MD*,†; Lozano, Graciela MD*; Niveloni, Sonia MD*,†; Mazure, Roberto MD*; Meddings, Jon MD∥; Mauriño, Eduardo MD*; Bai, Julio C. MD*,†,# Exploratory, Randomized, Double-blind, Placebo-controlled Study on the Effects of Bifidobacterium infantis Natren Life Start Strain Super Strain in Active Celiac Disease, Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology: February 2013 - Volume 47 - Issue 2 - p 139-147. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/234123818_Exploratory_Randomized_Double-blind_Placebo-controlled_Study_on_the_Effects_of_Bifidobacterium_infantis_Natren_Life_Start_Strain_Super_Strain_in_Active_Celiac_Disease
Serum Vitamins and Minerals at Diagnosis and Follow-up in Children With Celiac Disease. Deora, Vini∗; Aylward, Nicole∗; Sokoro, AbdulRazaq†; El-Matary, Wael∗,‡,§ Serum Vitamins and Minerals at Diagnosis and Follow-up in Children With Celiac Disease, Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition: August 2017 - Volume 65 - Issue 2 - p 185-189. doi: 10.1097/MPG.0000000000001475. https://journals.lww.com/jpgn/Fulltext/2017/08000/Serum_Vitamins_and_Minerals_at_Diagnosis_and.11.aspx.