Celiac Disease and Gluten Intolerance Facts

Understanding Celiac Disease and Gluten Intolerance. Learn key symptoms, how it affects the major organs of the body and foods to avoid if one has decided to become Gluten Free.

Gluten Intolerance or Gluten Allergies adversely affects the health and well being of millions of people world wide and is often misdiagnosed and under reported.

Celiac Disease is the most extreme aspect on the spectrum of Gluten Intollerance and should not be taken lightly.

Gluten is a protein that is found in most grains such as Wheat, Barley, Brewers Yeast, and Rye which is used in many food manufacturing processes and ingredients, including healthy ones. Those who suffer from Gluten Intolerance find that the Gluten Protein acts as an allergen within the body that over time, results in an Autoimmune disease of it's own, which can create a whole host of secondary diseases and illnesses that can even be fatal if left untreated.

Autoimmune diseases are diseases in which the body attacks itself and inhibits the functionality and effectiveness of the immune system so if the body is continually exposed to an allergen, especially internally through the diet, the immune system is no longer able to function properly to fight other diseases and illnesses, including the common cold and flu.

Digestively, Gluten causes bloating and constipation. And over a long term period of exposure, the intestinal lining changes in which vitamins, minerals and other proteins are unable to be absorbed into the body, which can cause malnutrition and dietary deficiencies. This can lead to bone density loss due to the inability to absorb calcium properly, and can cause anemia and low iron levels in the blood which can cause an elevated set of symptoms during menstruation in females. Cramps, fatigue, bloating, clotting and water weight gain can increase. Because the body is already experiencing inflammation in the soft tissue and joints, menstruation can become much more difficult, especially if iron levels are low.

Because Gluten works as an allergen in the body, the central nervous system and immune system are especially vulnerable. Patients are often diagnosed with symptomatic diseases such as Fibromyalgia, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and Skin Diseases such as Psoriasis, Eczema, and Dermatitis. Vertigo is also an underlying symptom which affects the fluid inside the ear canal that controls balance. Diseases that are more serious, that are also being linked to Celiac Disease are Multiple Sclerosis, Essential Tremor and several forms of Genetic Cerebellar Ataxia's in which lesions are found on the Cerebellum and brain stem. These lesions are linked to degenerative diseases like MS, Lupus and Parkinson's. So, discovering where a change in diet can be made, symptoms can dramatically improve without the use of medications.

Many patients who seek medical treatment for symptoms are often referred to specialists known as Internal Medicine Specialists to discover and identify their disease. Many who are diagnosed with inflammatory or Autoimmune diseases are prescribed anti-inflammatory medications that can alleviate the pain and inflammation. However, some of these medications do more harm than good. For example, medications such as Enbrel disables and suppresses the functionality of the immune system and although it alleviates symptoms that diseases such as Rheumatoid Arthritis causes, the body becomes completely vulnerable to other diseases.

Changing the diet and eliminating what the body is allergic to changes the path to disease and bring the patient to the doorway to recovery and great physical health. Eliminating the disease, rather that treating symptoms is a goal many physicians and medical professionals are able to focus on by learning more about Celiac Disease and how it affects the health and vitality of the body.

Common symptoms of Celiac Disease are:

  • Fatigue
  • Foggy Mental Functioning
  • Depression
  • Mood Swings
  • Soreness or Aches of the arms, legs, hands and feet
  • Continual Water Retention

Continual inflammation in the body can leave all major body organs at risk. Below is a breakdown of what can happen to the major organs if Celiac Disease is left untreated.

Heart

  • Inflammation can cause fluid retention which can build up around the heart causing the heart to work harder
  • Risk of higher blood pressure
  • Risk of enlarged heart

Lungs

  • Risk of developing Bronchitis
  • Risk of developing Asthma
  • Risk of developing Pneumonia
  • A heightened sensitivity to mold spores and household allergens

Digestive System (See above)

Liver

  • Risk of inability to process toxins from the body
  • Risk of dysfunction
  • Inability to process toxins from the body
  • Pain

Skin

  • Risk of frequent rashes
  • Risk of hives
  • Risk of skin diseases (see above)

Just a few common foods containing Gluten are listed below:

  • Whole Grain Bread, Wheat Bread, White Bread, Hotdog Buns, Hamburger Buns etc. Unless a bread is labeled Gluten Free, read the labels carefully and avoid breads containing Gluten.
  • White Flour
  • Wheat Flour
  • All Purpose Flour
  • Most Cereals and Oatmeal
  • Alcohol made with grains
  • Soy Sauce
  • Teriyaki Sauce
  •  Imitation Crab or Lobster Meat
  • Most Salad Dressings such as Ranch, Blue Cheese and regular Italian
  • Pasta/ Noodles
  • Stuffing Mixes
  • Processed Meats (Gluten is used as a preservative)
  • Crackers
  • Potato Chips (Gluten is usually in the flavoring and spice mixes)
  • Dorito's
  • Processed Cheese Spreads

Many products that would not normally contain Gluten do because of the preservation and manufacturing process of foods. So read your labels very closely, even if you're just purchasing packaged ham or fish sticks.

Here is a list of sneaky foods and additives to avoid that contain Gluten:

  • Fish Sticks ( The breading often contains Gluten Meal from grain based flour)
  • Chicken Broth (Sometimes the broth is made with Brewers Yeast which is a derivative of grains containing Gluten)
  • (Again mentioned) Immitation Crab or Lobster Meat. ( Gluten is used as a thickening/ bonding agent and a preservative)
  • Most processed cheeses such as spreads or even packaged singles. (Gluten is used as a thickening/ bonding agent and a preservative)
  • MSG (Mono Sodium Glutamate)
  • Fried Chicken ( The breading used is often from the flour milled from grains containing Gluten)
  • Any products that uses breading
  • Polish Sausage or Kilbasa ( Gluten is used for preservation)

A helpful tip for people who are updating their diet to become Gluten Free, it is important to take into consideration cross contamination. Foods that may not traditionally have the Gluten protein in them can become contaminated with it none the less by a work surface or cooking equipment that has also been used with foods containing Gluten. For example, with locations such as fast food restaurants, kitchens are often set up to use one deep fryer for all of their orders, including foods that are breaded with flour that is derived from grains containing Gluten. Even if a person just orders a basket of french fries, those french fries are very likely to be fried in the same oils that breaded foods are and that alone can cause an allergic reaction. Also, in the home where breads are stored and sliced on the counter, be sure the surface is cleaned of all crumbs so that the Gluten Free foods are not mixed with the crumbs. Even little crumbs left behind on the butter tray can be enough to cause an allergic reaction for someone who uses butter from that tray in their food.

A bigger picture point of view can be described like this. Most seeds that are eaten want to be eaten because that is how they proliferate and spread. However, with Gluten based grains like wheat and barley, their seeds do not proliferate once eaten so to be eaten threatens their survival. And like with many plants that develop toxins to thwart animals and people from eating them, wheat and other Gluten based grains are doing the same. Our physical bodies are unable to digest the tough enzimes and therefore, cause disease and illness within our bodies.

In a closing note, be mindful of all food labels and prepare foods from scratch if at all possible. Avoid processed foods. For each person it varies on the time it takes to recover from switching to a Gluten Free diet. The average is six months for the body to recover which also includes the shift from specific cravings, so be patient. A healthy diet equals a healthy body!

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Debbie Edwards
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Debbie Edwards
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Guimo Pantuhan
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Ron Siojo
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