Celiac Disease and Gluten Intolerance
About Celiac disease and gluten intolerance
A well-balanced diet benefits your body, including your digestive system. It allows for efficient elimination of waste and better absorption of vital nutrients. To keep your system running at optimal capacity, you need a diet rich in natural and/or supplemented fiber.
Sometimes, however, taking in what your body needs can be challenging due to allergies or sensitivities such as gluten. Eliminating gluten from your diet eliminates grains, which are high in fiber.
Understanding the differences between Celiac disease and gluten intolerance
Celiac disease, also known as celiac sprue, is a disease of the intestine in which consumption of gluten causes an immune reaction.
What is gluten?
Gluten is the name for proteins found in wheat, rye and barley that help foods retain their shape and affect their elasticity.
When patients with Celiac disease ingest foods that contain gluten, the small intestine is damaged, causing symptoms such as:
- Abdominal pain
- Joint and bone pain
- Muscle cramps
- Skin rash, also known as dermatitis herpetiformis
- Weight loss
Celiac disease is also one of the major causes of malabsorption syndrome, an inability to properly absorb vitamins, minerals and nutrients from the intestinal tract into the bloodstream.
Gluten intolerance, also known as gluten sensitivity, is a condition in which patients have similar symptoms to celiac disease after consuming gluten, but test negative for the disease itself. In addition, patients with gluten sensitivity do not incur the long-term effects associated with celiac disease, such as osteoporosis and vitamin deficiencies.
How are these conditions treated?
After removing gluten from your diet, symptoms of Celiac disease and gluten intolerance will generally improve within a few days and be resolved completely within a few months. Although you will have to remain on this diet for the rest of your life, you may substitute staples that contain gluten, such as bread and pasta, with gluten-free alternatives made with other types of flour (e.g., potato, rice, corn). You can also create healthy meals with gluten-free recipes found online.
For more information on Celiac disease and gluten intolerance, or to make an appointment with one of our specialists, contact us today.