Coeliac disease is a digestive disease that damages the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food. It is also sometime known as non-tropical sprue, or gluten-sensitive enteropathy.
People who have coeliac disease cannot tolerate a protein called gluten, found in cereals such as oats, wheat, barley, rye and spelt. The body responds to the gluten as if it was a foreign invader and launches an immune response. This causes the delicate lining of the small intestine to swell and become damaged. This in turn impairs the body’s ability to absorb vital nutrients so malabsorption occurs and can become a serious problem.
Coeliac disease is a genetic disease, meaning it runs in families. Sometimes the disease is triggered-or becomes active for the first time-after surgery, pregnancy, childbirth, viral infection, or severe emotional stress.
Coeliac disease affects people differently. Symptoms may occur in the digestive system, or in other parts of the body.
Symptoms of coeliac disease may include one or more of the following:
- Abdominal bloating and pain
- Pale, foul-smelling, or fatty stool
- Weight loss/weight gain
- Unexplained anaemia
- Bone or joint pain
- Behavioural changes
- Tingling or numbness in the legs
- Muscle cramps
- Irregular menstrual cycle
- Delayed growth or failure to thrive in children
- Pale sores inside the mouth
- Tooth discoloration or loss of enamel
- Itchy skin rash
A person with coeliac disease may have no symptoms at all but they are still at risk for the complications of coeliac disease, including malnutrition. Early identification is key.
Testing for Coeliac Disease
When the immune system reacts to the gluten it produces special substances called antibodies. Identifying high levels of various gluten-associated antibodies is an important first step in the diagnosis and correction of coeliac disease. This can be done via A Coeliac Test.
Treating Coeliac Disease
Diet – Once diagnosed, a completely gluten free diet is indicated and all foods containing gluten must be excluded. This can be a daunting task as there are many sources of hidden gluten such as soy sauce and flavourings. Gluten can also even be present in some of the products we use every day, such as stamp and envelope adhesive, medicines, and vitamins. Having A Smart Nutrition Consultation can make the transition to a gluten free diet a much less stressful experience! We will be able to advise you on which products to avoid as well as introduce you to a whole range and healthy alternatives and exciting new recipes to ensure your diet remains balanced.
Correcting nutritional deficiencies – The small intestine is the site in the digestive system from where the majority of nutrients are absorbed. Since Celiac disease damages this delicate absorption surface, sufferers are very prone to developing nutrient deficiencies. A Vitamin and Mineral Screen can help to highlight potential vitamin and mineral deficiencies. The results can then be used by Smart Nutrition to design a specific diet and supplement program for you to rebalance nutrient levels and ensure long term health.
Digestive health – Coeliac disease can be greatly aggravated by the presence of improperly digested food in the gut or imbalances in the levels of friendly bacteria. Restoring digestive health is an important step in treating coeliac disease and helping the lining of the small intestine to recover. Changes in friendly bacteria levels and other important digestive functions can be tested using A Comprehensive Digestive Stool Analysis.
Leaky gut – This is also known as intestinal permeability. A normal healthy gut lining allows certain molecules to pass across into the bloodstream such as vitamins, minerals and digested foods. It also acts as a barrier to prevent entry of larger damaging molecules, foreign particles and bacteria. When there is damage to the intestinal lining such as in celiac disease it can become compromised allowing larger particles, such as undigested or partially digested foods and bacteria, to enter into the bloodstream where they are attacked by the immune system. This leads to further inflammation, irritation and sensitivity reactions. A simple urine sample is used for the Leaky Gut Test and once identified, leaky gut can be treated with the help of Smart Nutrition.
Lactose intolerance – Lactose is the sugar which is found in milk products. In a healthy gut, lactose in broken down by enzymes made in the cells of the small intestine. In celiac disease, damage to the small intestine wall can impair the production of these lactose digesting enzymes, resulting in lactose intolerance. This is where the undigested lactose remains in the digestive system fermenting and producing gas; often leading to other digestive symptoms such as bloating, diarrhoea, or constipation. Since lactose intolerance symptoms mirror those of celiac disease testing is vital to uncover the root cause. This can be done using a breath test please call Smart Nutrition for details.
Osteoporosis – Rates of osteoporosis are higher in sufferers of celiac disease and this is thought to be likely to malabsorption of key bone nutrients. This risk is increased for people who: have a family history of the disease, eat a poor diet, lead a sedentary lifestyle, are underweight or chronically stressed, or have a history of hormonal problems. Changes in bone density can be identified via a simple Osteoporosis Risk Profile. A simple urine test which measure the excretion of substances produced during the breakdown of bone. Bone loss is often asymptomatic until a large percentage of bone matter has been lost. This means early identification is critical for successful therapy.
Thyroid health – In some individuals, celiac disease promotes an immune reaction that causes the body to attack its own thyroid gland. This compromises thyroid function and leads to the condition known as hypothyroidism – under active thyroid. The thyroid gland controls the body’s metabolism so it has a huge influence on how energised we feel. Hypothyroidism slows down many of the body’s processes. This can result in constipation, cold hands and feet, weight gain and depression. If you think hypothyroidism may be a factor in your symptom picture you might want to consider A Thyroid Test. Smart Nutrition could then use these test results to put together a protocol for you to boost thyroid functioning along side treating your celiac disease.