If you’ve been diagnosed with celiac disease, it’s important that you make immediate changes to your diet to protect against digestive problems. Statistics show that about 1% of Americans — 3 million people — suffer from this chronic autoimmune disorder. What’s even more alarming, however, is the fact that most people suffering from celiac disease don’t even know they have it. To prevent celiac disease from disrupting your life, you must first understand this disease and how it works.
Celiac Disease Explained
Celiac disease is a chronic autoimmune disorder that affects the digestive system. It’s characterized by autoimmune-related inflammation of the small intestines from the presence of a grain-based protein known as gluten. When someone suffering from celiac disease consumes a food or beverage containing gluten, his or her immune system will attack the small intestines where the gluten is located. Gluten, a common ingredient used to “bind” certain foods together, is harmless to the majority of the population. People suffering from celiac disease can’t process and digest gluten without experiencing digestive distress like abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, weight gain (or weight loss) and constipation. Their immune system wrongfully identifies gluten as being a potentially harmful foreign substance, so it attacks the stomach with antibodies, which causes the aforementioned systems.
Celiac disease can best be compared to allergies. With allergies, a substance like mold or pollen cause an overeaction by the individual’s immune system. Celiac disease has similar effects in which a person’s immune system identifies gluten as a potentially harmful substance, so it triggers adverse reactions.
What Causes Celiac Disease?
The cause of celiac disease remains unknown, though there’s some evidence suggesting that psychological stress can increase the risk of this autoimmune disorder. Stress disturbs the body’s hormones while also altering the way in which the immune system functions. As a result, some experts theorize that chronic psychological stress increases the risk of celiac disease. Another risk factor of celiac disease is genetics. If your mother or father has celiac disease, you are more likely to develop it than someone whose parents don’t have celiac disease.
How Celiac Disease Is Diagnosed
There are two primary methods used to diagnose celiac disease: blood analysis and stomach biopsy. With a blood analysis, a sample of the patient’s blood is examined and analyzed for the presence of antibodies. If a patient is suffering from celiac disease, his or her blood will contain higher levels of the TGA and EMA antibodies after consuming gluten.
The other method for diagnosing celiac disease is a stomach biopsy. It’s a more invasive testing method that involves the use of an endoscope to collect a sample of the patient’s stomach tissue. Once collected, the tissue is analyzed for villi, which can indicate whether the patient is suffering from celiac disease. For either test to work, though, the patient must be tested shortly after consuming a food or beverage containing gluten. Otherwise, the diagnosis may be inaccurate.
Celiac Disease vs Gluten Intolerance: What’s the Difference?
Many people wrongfully believe that they are suffering from celiac disease when they are actually suffering from gluten intolerance. Both conditions trigger adverse digestive symptoms after consuming gluten-based foods or beverages. The difference between them, however, is that gluten intolerance is a less severe condition that doesn’t involve the immune system. With gluten intolerance, a person may experience minor bloating, abdominal pain and other digestive symptoms. With celiac disease, these symptoms are more severe because they are related to the immune system’s response. If you’re unsure which condition you are suffering from, talk to a professional healthcare provider. He or she will be able to accurately diagnosis your condition so that you can make the necessary changes to your lifestyle and diet.
Removing Gluten From Your Diet
There’s no way to cure celiac disease, but you can completely eliminate the symptoms it causes by removing gluten from your diet. Without gluten in your stomach, your immune system won’t attack your small intestines. It’s only when you introduce gluten into your stomach that the symptoms of celiac disease manifest.
Gluten is found in a variety of foods and beverages, some of which include:
- Salad dressings
- Hotdog and hamburger buns
- Fried meats
- Breakfast cereal
Try to get into the habit of reading nutrition labels when shopping for groceries. If you see rye, wheat, barley or spelt listed, choose a different product. These are the primary grains that contain gluten, so it’s essential that you remove them from your diet. And when you go out for lunch or dinner at a restaurant, inquire about a gluten-free menu. Many restaurants, both national chain and small local restaurants, now offer a special gluten-free menu because of the rising rates of celiac disease.
If you suffer from celiac disease, contact us today. Atlanta Chiro and Wellness offers digestive support services that can help you regain control of your life, without worrying about digestive distress caused by this autoimmune disorder.Share