January 22, 2012 in Health Tips
Your small intestine is responsible for absorbing nutrients for your body to use. Celiac disease causes damage to the lining of the small intestine. The disease damages the small villi on the lining which absorb the nutrients the body needs from the foods you eat. People who have celiac disease can not absorb nutrients from the foods they eat and may become malnourished if the condition is not properly diagnosed. The lining of the small intestine becomes damaged from eating foods which contain gluten. This includes most grains like wheat, barley, oats and rye. It can be challenging for people who are sensitive to gluten to find foods that are safe for them to eat.
The cause of this condition is unknown, but it can develop at any time in a person’s life. More women are affected than men, and it seems to run in families. Most of the people affected are Caucasian or of European ancestry. There are certain health issues that will put you at greater risk for celiac disease. These include rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, thyroid disorders, Addison’s disease, Down syndrome, Type 1 diabetes, and intestinal lymphoma.
Symptoms vary from person to person. You may have diarrhea, constipation, nausea, vomiting, lactose intolerance, and unexplained weight loss. Since your body can’t absorb the nutrients it needs other symptoms may occur such as bruising easily, hair loss, mouth ulcers, delayed menstruation, itchy skin, tingling or numbness in the hands, and slow growth in children. Your doctor will do blood tests and an upper GI to determine if you have this condition.
The most effective treatment for celiac disease is to follow a gluten free diet. Your doctor may also prescribe vitamin and mineral supplements to help your body recuperate. If you follow your course of treatment and do not eat any foods with gluten, your small intestines will start to heal and you should see improvement within three to six months for children, but for adults it may take up to three years.
Food to Avoid
It can be hard to find foods which do not contain any wheat or other grains that will aggravate your condition. According to the Mayo Clinic you should avoid the following:
- Durum flour
- Graham flour
Foods You Can Eat
A gluten free diet may be hard to follow at first, but there are several foods you can still eat. This is a short list of these foods:
- Fresh meats, poultry and fish
- Beans and nuts that are unprocessed
- Fruits and vegetables
- Most dairy products
- Corn and cornmeal
It is important to find a support group or an online forum you can be active in. At Celiac.com you will find information, search for a local support group, gluten free recipes, and a list of safe foods. According to the website 1 in 133 Americans are affected by this condition. With education and a commitment to leading a gluten free life you can find relief.