While going gluten-free has become popular in recent years, many people don’t know the reason why others actually have to avoid consuming gluten. The reason is celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder that can cause damage to the small intestine if gluten is consumed.
According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, the body launches a response to attack the small intestine when it detects that gluten has been eaten. When the small intestine is attacked, it damages the villi, or small fingerlike structures that line the small intestine and help the body absorb nutrients. However, when villi are damaged, the body is no longer able to absorb nutrients.
Celiac disease is hereditary, and people who have a relative including a parent, child or sibling with the disease have a 1 in 10 chance of developing the disease.
There are long-term health effects that can cause people with celiac disease by suffer from these issues:
- Type 1 diabetes
- Multiple sclerosis
- Dermatitis herpetiformis (an itchy skin rash)
- Short stature
- Infertility and miscarriage
- Intestinal cancers
The only way to treat celiac disease is to follow a strict gluten-free diet. This means avoiding foods like wheat, barley and rye. Even eating the smallest amount of foods like bread and beer can cause damage to your small intestine.
When an individual has not been diagnosed with celiac disease or it goes untreated, there are additional long-term health conditions that can develop including lactose intolerance, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, gall bladder malfunction and pancreatic insufficiency.
Digestive symptoms of celiac disease are more common in infants and children. These are the most common symptoms that can be found in children:
- Chronic diarrhea
- Abdominal bloating and pain
- Pale, foul-smelling or fatty stool
- Weight loss
- Short stature
- Dental enamel defect of the permanent teeth
- Irritability and behavioral issues
- Failure to thrive
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
Symptoms of celiac disease in adults include:
- Unexplained iron-deficiency anemia
- Bone or joint pain
- Tingling numbness in the hands and feet
- Depression or anxiety
- Missed menstrual periods
- Seizures or migraines
- Canker sores inside the mouth
- Infertility or recurrent miscarriage
Natural remedies for celiac disease
Rather than eating your food raw, be sure to eat most of it cooked and warm. This makes the food more easily digestible and can reduce inflammation in your small intestine faster.
You should always avoid foods and drinks that contain barley, bulgur, durum, farina, graham flour, rye, malt, wheat, spelt, semolina and triticale. In order to ensure that you aren’t consuming these things, you’ll need to carefully read the labels on foods before purchasing them. You will also avoid packaged items unless they’re labeled as gluten-free or don’t contain any ingredients that have gluten in them. You may want to stay away from beer, candy, gravy, processed luncheon meats, salad dressings, self-basting poultry and soups.
It may seem like there is nothing left that you’re actually able to eat when you have celiac disease, but here’s a list of what’s allowed:
- Fresh meats, fish and poultry
- Wine and distilled liquors, ciders and spirits
- Most dairy products
- Pure corn tortillas