Celiac disease (referred to as celiac sprue, non-tropical sprue, and gluten-sensitive enteropathy) is a digestive disease that is triggered by consuming proteins called glutens, which are found in barley, rye, triticale and wheats (such as durum, durum semolina, einkorn emmer, farina, farro, Kamut, khorasan wheat and spelt), each can trigger poor nutrient absorption and malnourishment. When people with celiac
disease eat foods containing glutens,(no matter how tiny it is) their immune system responds by damaging “Villi”, which is the small fingerlike projections that line the small intestines in the body. Damaged villi make it nearly impossible for the body to absorb essential nutrients into the blood stream, which can lead to malnourishment and a host of other problems including cancer, osteoporosis, infertility, diabetes, and the onset of other auto immune diseases.
Can you be sensitive to Glutens without having celiac disease?
According to the American Academy of Family Physicians and other health and medical organizations and scientists – Yes, you can have gluten sensitivity without the immune system attack on the small intestine that gluten causes in celiac disease. For people with gluten sensitivity, symptoms are generally milder than those seen in celiac disease, but their symptoms improve on a gluten-free or gluten-restricted diet.
Who can get this disease or gluten sensitivity?
In years past, it was thought that celiac disease was just a genetic disorder passed from parent to child through DNA. But now physicians, hospitals, scientists and government health organizations have discovered that people can also develop celiac disease and gluten sensitivities from other ways, including trauma or stress to the body such as pregnancy, surgery, anesthesia, severe burns, gunshot wounds, severe infections, or severe emotional distress can trigger the onset of the disease.
It is also important to note ethnic cultures around the world such as Asian, African and Hispanic cultures for thousands of years generally had a composition of low-gluten diets or gluten free diets and foods. Generally these cultural diets consumed naturally non-gluten grains and tubers such as rice(brown, red, black, white, wild); corn( purple, blue, red, yellow etc), yuca/cassava, sorghum, millet, teff, and amaranth and they usually also included some type of legume (beans, lentils, peas, peanuts, soy).
Get properly Diagnosed-
Don’t assume and try to self-diagnose your condition. Make an appointment with a health professional that specializes in celiac disease and gluten sensitivities to see if you have celiac disease, sprue, gluten sensitivity etc.
There are antibody tests and genetic tests, but Note as of the date of this article: the gold standard for diagnosis and the only “definitive” test is a small intestine biopsy. After getting properly diagnosed , meet with a nutritionist that specializes in your condition so you can make certain that you have a program that provides the daily nutrition for your needs.
Celiac has special Nutrition Needs besides Gluten Free-
Daily amounts of nutrition needs vary depending upon several factors: genetics, culture, state of health, age, gender, lifestyle,etc. Generally people with celiac disease are at risk of deficiencies for the following nutrients: Protein, Calories, and these vitamins and minerals in particular ( vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin K, vitamin B1, vitamin B2,vitamin B12, Folate, vitamin C, Calcium, Iron and magnesium). Thus people with celiac and those on gluten free diets need to be mindful of adequate intakes of these nutrients, along with the complimentary nutrients to help absorption, as well as avoiding foods and things that can interfere with nutrient absorption.
The need for customized individual gluten free dietary plans is important for optimum health, so contact a nutritionist experienced with medical nutrition therapy for celiac disease.