Celiac Disease: Signs, Causes & Natural Solutions
Although not as prevalent as other chronic health conditions, Celiac Disease is an auto-immune condition that is rapidly on the rise.
Celiac's is sometimes referred to as a “silent killer” because it causes symptoms within the body that vary greatly from person to person and that are rarely traced back to the true cause of the disease condition.
Celiac Disease is widely known an inflammatory response to gluten within the small intestine, but in many cases, the sensitivity is not to gluten at all - but more specifically to the chemicals that commercially harvested grains are exposed to in their farming, transportation and storage.
What is Celiac Disease?
Celiac's is a disease affecting the digestive system, considered an autoimmune disease because the body’s own immune system damages tissue within the small intestine, interfering with its ability to absorb nutrients from food.
What Causes Celiac Disease?
Today, researchers all seem to conclude that the condition known as Celiac Disease is an intolerance triggered by eating gluten - a protein found in wheat, rye and barley and especially commercial bread.
The “Celiac Affliction” was first reported by Gee in 1888, however, it was not until 1950 that wheat was proposed to be the cause of Celiac Disease.
During World War II when wheat grains were scarce in Holland, a Dutch physician named Dicke observed that children with Celiac Disease improved on a wheat-poor diet. Since then the offending substance has been named as gluten, the large water-insoluble protein, but there's actually more to the story.
The real problem today is the chemicals used in growing, harvesting and storing grains (like Aluminium Fluoride), to protect and treat against pests like weevils.
The residues of these chemicals that end up in grain products, are the biggest causes of sensitivities in the gut.
For people who are supposedly 'gluten intolerant', it's interesting to take organic, fresh harvested whole grains and to prepare bread with absolutely no chemical intervention. You will notice that rarely is there any sensitivity in this case.
Signs & Symptoms
Celiac Disease affects people differently as some people develop symptoms as children, others as adults.
One factor thought to play a role in when and how Celiac appears is whether and how long a person was breastfed; the longer one was breastfed, the less likely that symptoms of Celiac Disease will appear later in life.
Other factors include the amount of processed grain products that have been eaten from an early age that has impacted the tissue within the small intestine over time.
Symptoms may not always occur in the digestive system.
For example, one person might have diarrhoea and abdominal pain, while another person can have irritability, bad skin or depression.
Irritability is one of the most common signs in young children.
The most common signs of Celiac Disease may include one or more of the following:
- Diarrhoea and Constipation
- Stomach Pain
- Chronic Fatigue
- Behavioural changes and mood swings
- Mental fatigue or 'fog'
- Excessive changes in weight
- Irregular menstrual periods (often because of excessive weight loss)
- Muscle and joint pain
- Acne and skin irritations
- Ulcers and mouth sores
- Tingling numbness in the legs (from nerve damage)
- Tooth discolouration or loss of enamel
- Unexplained anaemia (low count of red blood cells)
- Irregular sleep patterns
Not everyone with Celiac Disease shows obvious symptoms because the undamaged part of their small intestine is able to absorb enough nutrients to prevent any symptoms.
Effects On The Digestive System
When people with Celiac Disease eat foods containing gluten, their immune system responds by damaging or losing the villi, tiny finger-like protrusions, on the lining of the small intestine.
Nutrients from food are absorbed into the bloodstream through these villi. Without villi, a person becomes malnourished regardless of the quantity of food eaten.
Many of the symptoms happen as a result of inflammatory responses in the gut, where much of the immune system is present. When gluten is detected, immunity reactions go into overdrive wrecking havoc not just in the digestive system but throughout the body in the form of inflammation.
Learn more in What Is Inflammation & How To Reduce It In Your Body
What often then happens is small tears appear in the lining of the gut making it ‘permeable’ and more susceptible to substances to pass through it and get into the bloodstream.
This seepage of particles from the digestive system into the blood is commonly known as ‘leaky gut syndrome’ and can make you more prone to other conditions such as food allergies as a result of this immune response.
Often compounding these effects is the ‘sticky’ nature of gluten which can affect the absorption and proper digestion of vital nutrients further contributing to inflammation and the exacerbation of leaky gut symptoms like:
- Abdominal pain
Effects On The Central Nervous System
As a result of the systemic inflammatory responses brought on by the going on's in the gut, the brain can also be affected due to its sensitivity to inflammation. In addition, the ‘blood-brain barrier’ can be compromised enabling harmful substances to penetrate leading to symptoms such as:
- Brain fog
- Sleep issues
In extreme cases when immune antibodies destined for gliadins react with proteins in the brain, serious dysfunctions can present in the form of seizures, learning disabilities and other behavioural abnormalities.
What Is The Difference To Gluten Intolerance?
As discussed in the blog, What Really Is Gluten Intolerance & Hidden Sources, most people’s sensitivity to wheat products is actually caused by a reaction to toxic chemicals and heavy metals used in the storage, processing and preserving of wheat and not actually from gluten itself.
These substances also cause an inflammatory response, but despite popular belief, it’s not caused as a result of gluten which is the case with celiac disease.
Complications & Long-Term Effects
A person with celiac disease is at risk for several diseases and health problems because of the damage to the small intestine and resulting problems with nutrient absorption.
These can include:
- Lymphoma & Adenocarcinoma - cancers that can develop in the intestine.
- Osteoporosis - a condition from poor calcium absorption in which the bones become weak, brittle & prone to breaking.
- Miscarriage & congenital malformation of the baby, such as neural tube defects, are risks for untreated pregnant women with celiac disease because of malabsorption of nutrients.
- During the years when nutrition is critical to a child’s normal growth and development, short stature may results when childhood celiac disease prevents nutrient absorption. However, children who are diagnosed and treated before their growth stops may have a catch-up period.
- Seizures, or convulsions, result from inadequate absorption of folic acid. Lack of folic acid causes calcium deposits, called calcifications, to form in the brain, which in turn cause seizures.
Natural Solutions: What can be done?
The number one solution for celiac disease is to clean up your diet.
As a starting point, it's a good idea to clean any toxic residue that may be stored in your gut by doing either a 7-14 day juice or water fast, or natural colon cleanse with our two-part, 2-4 day protocol, Cleanse Me.
Second, eliminate ALL processed foods and refined sugar from your diet and avoid all foods containing wheat, barley, rye or oats for a while. Once you no longer have symptoms, you can gradually add back the 'organic', 'whole', 'untreated' versions of these grains into your diet.
Don't get sucked into products labelled 'gluten-free' which usually contain a host of other ingredients which won't help the healing of your gut.
Instead, prepare as much of your own food as you can by incorporating plenty of fresh fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds.
You should also include a lot of fermented foods into your daily diet, especially raw, organic yoghurt, kefir, aged cheeses (with no animal rennet), olives and sauerkraut.
Eat plenty of avocados and at least 1 shot glass per day of cold-pressed plant oils like Extra Virgin Oils, Avocado Oil, Flax or Macadamia Oil.
Slowly reintroduce grains into the diet starting with oats, then tiny amounts of others until the body is fine with them.
The key is to heal your gut first and then clean up your diet.
By eating more plants, fermented foods and avoiding processed, packaged foods, sugars and grains, you'll find that any sensitivities of your gut will become a thing of the past.