Alternative name :: Celiac sprue
What is celiac disease?
Celiac disease (also called celiac sprue) is a chronic digestive disorder that is caused by a hereditary intolerance to gluten. Gluten is a component of wheat (including durum, semolina, and spelt), rye, oats, barley, and related grain hybrids such as triticale and kamut. The cause of celiac disease is unknown, although it is known to affect mostly Caucasians of European descent.
When a person with celiac disease consumes gluten, damage to the small intestine results. It is believed that the body responds to gluten as if it were an antigen, and launches an immune-system attack when it is absorbed by the intestine. This, in turn, causes the lining of the small intestine to swell. As a result, tiny hairlike projections called villi suffer damage and destruction, which impairs the body’s ability to absorb vital nutrients. Malabsorption becomes a serious problem, and the loss of vitamins, minerals, and calories results in malnutrition despite an adequate diet. Diarrhea compounds the problem. Because celiac disease impairs digestion, food allergies may also appear.
Celiac disease is much more prevalent than was once believed. Recent studies suggest that as many as 1 in 500 persons in the United States is affected. The incidence may be even higher in many areas of Europe. There is no known cure for celiac disease, but it can be controlled by lifelong adherence to a gluten-free diet.
Causes of celiac disease
The exact cause of celiac disease is not known; however, inheriting or developing certain irregular genes increases your susceptibility. You are more likely to have these abnormal genes and develop celiac disease if you have a first-degree relative (mother, father, brother, sister, son, or daughter) with the condition. If an immediate family member, such as a parent, brother, or sister, has celiac disease, there’s about a 5% to 10% chance that you could have it, too. In some genetically predisposed people,environmental factors, such as bacteria, viruses, or surgery, may cause changes in the small intestine; then, eating gluten can trigger an irregular immune system response, resulting in celiac disease.
Celiac disease symptoms
Celiac disease affects both adults and children; and it can appear at any age. It often appears when a child is first introduced to cereal foods, at around three or four months of age. In others, the disease can be triggered by emotional stress or physical trauma, such as a surgery or pregnancy. The first signs are usually diarrhea, weight loss, and nutritional deficiencies. Other symptoms include nausea; abdominal swelling; large, and, frequently, pale and/or light-yellow-colored, foul-smelling stools that float; depression; fatigue; irritability; muscle cramps and wasting; and joint and/or bone pain. Infants and children may exhibit stunted growth, vomiting, an intense burning sensation in the skin, and a red, itchy skin rash called dermatitis herpetiformis. A baby with celiac disease may gain weight more slowly than normal or may lose weight. The infant may have a poor appetite, gas, and offensive-smelling bowel movements. The child is likely to have an anemic, undernourished appearance. Ulcers may develop in the mouth.
How can celiac disease diagnosed
Celiac disease is often difficult to diagnose because the symptoms are similar to those of other diseases, such as irritable bowel syndrome, gastric ulcers, and anemia. Advances in blood testing have made it easier to detect celiac disease. A diagnosis based on a blood test should be followed up with a biopsy of intestinal tissue, which is usually an outpatient procedure. However, due to the fact that symptoms are so diverse, and that some people with celiac disease do not show obvious symptoms, many people go a long time before being diagnosed correctly. Because celiac disease is hereditary, if one family member is diagnosed with it, other family members should also be tested.
Home remedies for celiac disease
Alfalfa supplies vitamin K, which is often deficient in those with celiac disease. Take 2,000 to 3,000 milligrams in tablet form daily.
2. Olive Leaf
Olive leaf extract and/ or goldenseal is helpful for keeping infection down.
Caution: Do not take goldenseal on a daily basis for more than one week at a time, and do not use it during pregnancy. If you have a history of heart disease, diabetes, or glaucoma, use it only under a doctor’s supervision.
3. Be sure to chew your foods thoroughly before swallowing. This will improve the intake of nutrients.
4. Current evidence suggests up to 2 ounces of oats each day may be tolerated well by people with celiac disease.
5. Do not eat sugary products, processed foods, dairy products, bouillon cubes, chocolate, and bottled salad dressings.
6. Vitamin K
Vitamin K deficiency caused by celiac disease may lead to a hypoprothrombinemia (a lack of clotting factors in the blood). One form of vitamin K is manufactured by “friendly” bacteria in the intestines; another is present in certain foods, especially leafy greens, alfalfa, tomatoes, strawberries, whole grains, and yogurt. Bacteria such as those found in yogurt and acidophilus can also help to restore the intestinal flora necessary for vitamin K production.
If celiac disease left untreated, it can be quite serious, even life-threatening. Bone disease, such as osteoporosis, central and peripheral nervous system impairment, seizures caused by inadequate absorption of folic acid, internal hemorrhaging, pancreatic disease, infertility, miscarriages and birth defects, and gynecological disorders are just some of the long-term maladies that can affect those with celiac disease. There is also a risk of developing intestinal lymphoma and other intestinal malignancies. Certain autoimmune disorders also can be associated with celiac disease, including kidney disease (nephrosis), sarcoidosis (the formation of lesions in the lungs, bones, skin, and other places), insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, systemic lupus erythematosus, thyroid disease, and, rarely, chronic active hepatitis, scleroderma, myasthenia gravis, Addison’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and Sjogren’s syndrome.
Celiac disease diet
- Eat fresh vegetables, legumes (such as lentils, beans, and peas), rice bran, nuts, sunflower seeds, raisins, figs, and “seedy” fruits, such as strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries. Include in the diet blackstrap molasses, which is high in iron and the B vitamins. People with celiac disease need fiber and foods rich in iron and the B vitamins.
- Avoid any and all foods that contain gluten. Do not eat any products that contain barley, oats, rye, or wheat. Rice and corn can be eaten. Substitute rice, potato, cornmeal, and soy flour for wheat flour. Read all labels carefully. Watch for “hidden” sources of gluten, such as hydrolyzed vegetable protein, textured vegetable protein, hydrolyzed plant protein, and all derivatives of wheat, rye, oats, and barley, including malt, modified food starch, some soy sauces, grain vinegars, binders, fillers, excipients, and “natural flavorings.” Do not consume hot dogs, gravies, luncheon meat, beer, mustard, catsup, non-dairy creamer, white vinegar, curry powder, or seasonings. Gluten-free products are available at health food stores.
- If a child develops any of the symptoms of celiac disease, omit all gluten-containing foods from the child’s diet and see if the problem clears up. Also eliminate milk, as lactose intolerance can occur with celiac disease. The disease can begin in the first few months of life, depending on the child’s diet.
- Celiac disease causes malabsorption of the B vitamins and the fat-soluble vitamins (vitamins A, 0, E, and K), so take these nutrients. Note that gluten is found in many nutritional supplements. Read labels carefully, and use supplements that are hypoallergenic, wheat-free, and yeastfree.