Celiac Disease: Symptoms, Causes & Who’s at Risk
Celiac is a genetic disease that affects about one percent of the population. While this may not sound like an alarming statistic, the rate of celiac disease is on the rise.
What is Celiac Disease?
Celiac is an autoimmune disorder. This means your immune system mistakenly attacks your own healthy cells and tissue.
In the case of celiac, the lining of the small intestine becomes damaged when gluten is detected. This is why consuming gluten when you have celiac is so dangerous.
The Most Common Celiac Symptoms
Celiac can create nearly one hundred symptoms, but the most common ones are:
Now, let’s look at the effect gluten has if you’re “celiac.”
Gluten and the Problems it Causes
Gluten is a protein found in certain grains like wheat, barley, and rye.
The top gluten containing foods include:
- Baked goods
If a food is sticky and chewy, it likely contains gluten. After all, gluten helps ingredients bind together. While this certainly makes for easier cooking, it’s not so easy on your body!
Gluten is so sticky, it can form a mass in your gut that causes cramps, bowel trouble and digestive problems.
Even worse, gluten interferes with your ability to absorb nutrients.
A healthy small intestine has a membrane lining with finger-like projections called villi. They serve to increase surface area for nutrients to pass through into your bloodstream. The condition of your villi plays a big role in the health of your gut.
If you have celiac, your villi become damaged by the inflammation gluten creates.
Not-So-Obvious Effects of Damaged Villi
You can imagine how poor functioning villi can create nutrient deficiencies, but it also manifests in ways that may seem unrelated or less obvious, such as infertility or osteoporosis.
So, although the problem is in the small intestine, symptoms can be widespread in the body. Some examples are:
- Stomach upset
- Brain fog
- Skin problems
- Joint pain
So, Who's at Risk for Celiac Disease?
You aren’t born with celiac, but you may have a genetic predisposition to develop it – at any age.
Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial because once you have an autoimmune disorder, you’re more prone to developing another one.
Autoimmune disorders attack the body by creating inflammation. This is a dangerous condition for your cells since inflammation damages DNA and could result in uncontrolled cell growth.
Gluten Sensitivity VS. Celiac
A gluten “sensitivity” is different than celiac disease, although symptoms are very similar.
The major difference between the two comes down to genetics. There are many factors in gluten sensitivity, but genetics is not thought to be one of them. Whereas with celiac disease, there is a definite genetic factor.
The only treatment for either is to eliminate gluten – entirely. If you have symptoms, gluten elimination is absolutely necessary to your health!
But don’t worry, with further knowledge, eliminating gluten can be done very successfully. A good place to start is by understanding how gluten hides in our food supply. Check out my video, Unsuspecting Places You’ll Find Gluten.
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