Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition where exposure to gluten causes an immune reaction that leads to inflammation in the small intestine. It usually develops in early childhood. However, it can come up at any age. Autoantibodies which are antibodies created against the body’s own tissues are created on exposure to gluten. The autoantibodies target the epithelial cells (cells that line the surfaces of the body) in the small intestine and cause inflammation in these areas.
The inflammation affects the small intestine and damages the intestinal villi which are the small finger-like projections found along the wall of their small intestine. The intestinal villi play an important role in absorbing the nutrients from the foods we eat. When the villi become damaged, the body is unable to absorb nutrients from food. This can lead to malnutrition and other serious health complications, including permanent intestinal damage.
Pain in the abdomen
Digestive issues like diarrhoea, constipation, bloating, gas, etc.
Pain in the joints and bones
Stool that is pale and smelly
An iron deficiency (anaemia)
Ulcers in the mouth
Numbness or tingling in the hands and feet
Weight loss, fatigue, depression or anxiety
Women can have irregular menstrual periods
Doctors can often diagnose celiac disease by considering the medical histories of the person and their family and ordering tests such as blood tests, genetic tests, and biopsies. The healthcare provider may also perform a blood test to measure levels of antibodies to gluten. People with celiac disease have higher levels of certain antibodies in their blood. Celiac disease can be difficult to diagnose because it shares symptoms with other conditions like irritable bowel syndrome, lactose intolerance, Crohn’s disease, etc.
Stick to a gluten free diet. Gluten occurs naturally in wheat, rye, and barley. Most cereals, grains, and pasta, as well as many processed foods, contain gluten. Many processed foods like fries, chips, granola bars, soy sauce, lunch meats, etc. sometimes contain gluten. Beers and other grain-based alcoholic drinks can also contain it.
Certain non-food products like toothpaste, cosmetics, including lipstick, lip gloss, and lip balm, some over the counter medications, some vitamin products, etc. can contain gluten.
It is crucial to check packaging labels because gluten can be an ingredient in some unexpected products.
Gluten-free foods that can be included in the diet:
Gluten-free grains and starches like buckwheat, corn, amaranth and flour made from rice, soy, corn, etc.
Most dairy products
Rice, beans, and lentils
Fresh meats, fish, and poultry that haven’t been breaded, coated, or marinated
Gluten-free diets have become more popular in recent years. However, research does not suggest that this diet benefits people who do not have celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity. There is no cure for celiac disease, but a person with celiac can ease or relieve the symptoms by switching to a gluten-free diet. It allows the intestine to heal. Dropping gluten from your diet usually improves the condition within a few days and eventually ends the symptoms of the disease.
About the Author: Preetha Sanjeev has teaching experience of over 15years and has completed her Kindergarten & Montessori Teachers Training. She also holds the Cambridge International Diploma for Teachers and Trainers. Preetha has a passion for fitness and nutrition and holds multiple certifications in both. She is a qualified pre & postnatal yoga instructor, with advanced certification as a yoga instructor for children. Her understanding of the subject matter and easy writing skills make her an invaluable part of the Juvenate Team. For more information about us, please visit us at www.juvenatewellbeing.org.