When I start talking to people about their gut issues, many times the first thing I suggest is getting tested for celiac. Why? Well celiac disease is much more common than believed, especially if you have any kind of gastro or digestive symptoms symptoms (but even if you don’t – 41% of adults with celiac have NO SYMPTOMS).
But also, testing for celiac is done with a simple blood test that most doctors will order, so it’s incredibly easy to rule out celiac and then move onto other possibilities.
What is celiac disease?
Celiac disease is a severe reaction to gluten, a protein found in the grains wheat, barley and rye. It is a chronic and permanent condition that affects the gastrointestinal system. It affects people of all ages (although it used to be thought to only occur in children) from all over the world (no – it’s not just a rich white people disease like some a-holes people have said).
Celiac is a type of autoimmune disease, which means that the body attacks itself in an inappropriate immune system response. In celiac disease the reaction is caused by a protein of the food molecule gluten called gliadin. When someone with celiac eats gluten, the immune system sets off a response to protect you from the “foreign invader” (aka gluten) and creates antibodies to gluten.
In a normal, healthy person, the small intestine is lined with shag carpet like projections called villi that absorb nutrients into the bloodstream and block the absorption of other molecules.
People with celiac have intestinal permeability (also known as leaky gut), which allows gluten molecules to be absorbed through these leaks. This creates an immune assault (hence autoimmune), that causes inflammation and damages the villi.
Over time and repeated exposure, this causes these villi to become damaged, inflamed and flattened. This is called villous atrophy, and it destroys the body’s ability to absorb essential nutrients.
This damage and non-absorbtion of nutrients creates a chain reaction of problems and symptoms throughout the body, sometimes noticeable, sometimes not. The amount of damage depends on how long you’ve had to buy phentermine online https://www.topcanadianpharmacy.org/product/phentermine/.
The symptoms for celiac go well beyond the gut, because once the intestinal lining is destroyed and leaky gut starts, you are dealing with a cascade of health problems from malnutrition and vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Your immune system is overwhelmed, your organs can’t cope and become unbalanced, you’re liver is overtaxed and can’t cope with all the toxicity.
The bad bacteria are allowed to proliferate in the bad gut environment, releasing toxic byproducts of their own and wreaking havoc.
Every part of your body suffers, because without proper nutrition, no cell in the body can do it’s job properly.
And then the real problems start: nerve damage, liver damage, toxicity, neurological problems, other Autoimmune diseases and even cancer.
Yep, celiac is a serious disease and people do die from it – it’s not just about being a little sensitive to gluten and avoiding it, it’s much bigger than that.
The stats are scary:
- Only 3% of people who have celiac are currently diagnosed – in other words, 97% of people who have active celiac are walking around not knowing it!
- 41% of adults diagnosed are asymptomatic – meaning they have NO SYMPTOMS at all!
- 1 in 133 average healthy people have celiac, while 1 in 56 people with symptoms like those listed here have celiac.
- But the scariest stat: it takes an average of FOUR YEARS for someone with symptomatic celiac to be diagnosed – and the delay causes dramatic damage to health and increases the risk of it getting to the ‘super serious’ point of developing autoimmune disorders, neurological problems, osteoporosis and even cancer. Many are misdiagnosed with another disease.
It took me four years to get diagnosed – and I was lucky that I figured out bread was causing my pain and walked into the doctors office and ASKED for the test myself, after years of getting the run around from the medical establishment.
So please spread the word about celiac, share this article, share the infographic and urge people to get tested! You will save some lives by becoming a celiac advocate.
List of Celiac Symptoms
The list of symptoms for celiac is varied and wide-spread, which makes it hard to diagnose because it can look like many other diseases, or just some random symptoms that are probably “in your head”.
When I started seeing doctors for my health problems, they at first thought it was likely endometriosis and sent me on a slew of tests looking for that (including a laparoscopy).
This is why so many people remain undiagnosed or get misdiagnosed, and why getting the simple blood test is so important.
Underlying all of these symptoms is damage to the small intestine (villious atrophy) and nutrient malabsorption issues resulting in vitamin and mineral deficiencies, which then can cause a host of other health problems.
Everybody who has celiac has a different experience and different symptoms because the damage and malnutrition it causes present different health problems for everyone.
The most obvious and common symptoms are gastrointestinal, and many people, including myself are often misdiagnosed with irritable bowl syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) or even Crohn’s disease. But not everyone does have gastrointestinal symptoms.
I’ve highlighted the most common symptoms below.
- diarrhoea (35% of newly diagnosed patients had chronic diarrhea)
- abnormal bowel movements (pale, foul smelling stool or fatty stools that float)
- irritable bowel syndrome
- abdominal distention
- changes in appetite
- acid reflux
- nausea & vomiting
- vitamin or mineral deficiencies
- brain fog & poor concentration
- ataxia (loss of balance)
- irritability & mood swings
- behavioural changes
- neurological disorders
- neuropathy (nerve damage)
- missed menstrual periods
- fatigue & lethargy
- tingling or numbness in hands and feet
- joint pain
- bone pain
- weight loss
- weight gain
- insomnia & poor sleep
- anemia (usually from iron deficiency)
- easy bruising
- canker sores
- mouth ulcers
- dental enamel defects
- hair loss
- shortness of breath
- muscle cramps
- nose bleeds
- hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
- constantly getting sick
- short stature
- reduced functioning of the spleen (hyposplenism)
- failure to thrive in infants
- delayed growth in children
- pale & dull skin
- rashes & hives
- dermatitis herpetiformis (burning, itchy and blistering rash)
OTHER AUTOIMMUNE DISEASES
- type 1 diabetes
- Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
- rheumatoid arthritis
- Multiple sclerosis
- Ulcerative colitis
- intestinal cancer
- thyroid disease
- lymphoma (cancer of the lymph glands)
- heart disease
After reading this list, you might start feeling convinced celiac could be your problem, but before you go giving up gluten altogether, make sure you get the proper testing done for celiac. It is super important to know if you have celiac disease, so you know how careful you have to be with gluten and eating out, and for other medical reasons you might not forsee yet.
You need to still be eating gluten for two weeks for the test to be accurate, so do that before going gluten-free.
I’ll be writing more about the testing for celiac in the coming weeks.