Beyond Celiac Disease
One disease, many causes … One cause, many diseases
Celiac disease, wheat allergy and gluten intolerance are all related categories of immune and digestive system disorders that are becoming increasingly more common. More and more, people are beginning to ask, “Just what is celiac disease?” and “What is wrong with gluten?” Unfortunately, many myths and much misinformation surrounds these issues, allowing many people who should take a closer look for their own well-being, to often dismiss it too quickly. However, the need for awareness and concern is very real.
Celiac disease is an autoimmune diseases triggered by the consumption of gluten proteins found in all wheat, rye, and barley products. However, even though Celiac disease often gets most of the attention it is just one of many autoimmune and other disorders linked to gluten containing grains. Those of us with gluten sensitivity are just as much in harm’s way as those who may have full-blown celiac.
Researches have estimated the incidence of full blown Celiac disease to be at 1 in 200 individuals. However, more recently it has been hypothesized to be as common as 1 in 30 individuals. To make matters worst, gluten sensitivity is considerably more common than celiac disease and is currently epidemic. Both gluten sensitivity and celiac disease create inflammation and immune system effects throughout the body, including the brain.
Research points to an extraordinary number of illnesses and autoimmune diseases that can be triggered by gluten sensitivity. The following is a partial list of some of the most common health issues that have been linked to gluten sensitivity:
- Digestive disorders including acid reflux, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and Crohn’s disease
- Liver disease, Gallbladder disease, Kidney inflammation
- Thyroid disorders such as Grave’s disease and Hashimoto’s disease
- Neurological disorders such as ADD/ADHD, Ataxia, Epilepsy, Dementia, Anxiety, and Parkinson’s Disease
- Anemia, Dental enamel defects, Osteoporosis
- Autism, almost all autoimmune diseases, and most degenerative neurological disorders
- Dermatitis herpetiformis (itchy skin rash) and Atopic diseases (itchy, flaky skin)
- Psoriasis, Vitiligo, and Type I Diabetes
- Eating disorders, depression, and migraine headaches
Myth: Celiac disease and/or gluten sensitivity is always associated with abdominal pain.
It’s important to note that some people have no gastrointestinal symptoms at all. Because there are so many varying symptoms, gluten sensitivity can often be overlooked or misdiagnosed as gastric ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, parasite infections, anemia or Crohn’s disease — naming the symptoms but not identifying the actual cause. Research indicates that for every one Celiac case with obvious gut symptoms there are eight (yes, 8!) cases of “silent” Celiac where there are no obvious gut symptoms at all.
Celiac Disease & Gluten Sensitivity in Children. Celiac disease in toddlers as well as in younger and older children is also becoming more common. Sometimes, these conditions are the most difficult to pinpoint because a child this young cannot identify the underlying problem. The first signs can occur within three to five months after a first consumption of gluten – which makes it very hard to diagnosis as such. But it can also present slowly over time at several years of age, or even in teenage years, and because it is a delayed food response it is easily overlooked or misdiagnosed.
From this we learn that we must be responsible for our own health and the health of our children. We must learn to be observant and proactive, not depending on a doctor or other practitioner to take care of our health for us. True health comes with personal responsibility and awareness, and an accumulation of one good decision after another. This allows true healing to occur.
Healing the Gut. Celiac disease in children and adults requires attention. It is necessary for anyone with gluten sensitivity or celiac disease to stop eating all glutenous grains. If healing is slow, it is important to consider other foods that commonly cause reactions in those with gluten sensitivity. This includes foods such as: casein, oats, rye, barley, spelt, kamut, yeast, coffee (sorry!), milk chocolate (really sorry!), corn, sesame, buckwheat, quinoa, sorghum, millet, tapioca, amaranth, rice (yes, even rice!), and potato.
One of the greatest improvements you can make in your physical and mental health will be to eliminate not only wheat from your diet, but the other seven major cereal grains as well: rye, barley, oats, corn, rice, millet and sorghum. Grains contribute to gut inflammation, so eliminating inflammatory foods will speed healing.