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Celiac awareness week! Blog 1

11/05/2016

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Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition, when the immune system malfunctions and attacks the villi in the small intestine. The villi are finger like protrusions which increase the surface area of the small intestine, allowing vital minerals, vitamins, amino acids and fatty acids to be absorbed into the blood stream, delivering nutrients to cells and vital organs.

The immune system see’s gluten proteins as an intruder, these proteins look very similar to the villi’s chemical structure and the immune system attacks the villi as if they are foreign to the body. When the villi are attacked they start to wither and shrink, this causes the main issue with celiac disease, malnutrition, which left undiagnosed can lead to osteoporosis, severe iron deficiency and other illnesses.

Often in celiac disease the symptoms are related to the digestive system, skin (dermatitis herpetiformis) or effects on mental health and cognition. Symptoms vary and some sufferers have very few typical symptoms, just apathy, weight-loss or weight gain, brain fog, depression, achy joints and fatigue, rather than the more common symptoms such as diarrhoea, bloating, pain and cramps, constipation (IBS symptoms).

I recommend my clients are tested for celiac disease before they remove gluten from their diets when presenting with such symptoms.  Removing gluten stops any antibody reaction to wheat and therefore affects the blood tests, giving false negative results. If the GP is not inclined to do this, I offer tests which are very sensitive and look at all the proteins present in wheat, there are 24, these tests are expensive, but very accurate and helpful, paid in USDollars $400 or £275. The results allow us to see whether celiac disease needs to be further investigated by the GP for diagnosis or whether there is a non celiac gluten sensitivity at play, which can present with similar unpleasant symptoms but without the an auto-immune element , leaving the villi intact.

Grains which contain gluten:

  • Wheat (including spelt, kamut, bulgar wheat, semonlina, couscous)
  • Rye
  • Barley
  • Triticale
  • oats

Gluten is the name given to the protein in wheat, rye, barley and oats that affect people with coeliac disease. It is a composite name and so gluten represents:

  • Gliadin in Wheat
  • Hordein in Barley
  • Secalin in Rye
  • Avenin in Oats

According to the Australian Doctor, Dr Robert Anderson, 1 in 5 celiac react to avenin in oats, which means that gluten free oats should be removed if symptoms do not improve on a gluten free diet. In UK most GP’s tend to recommend gluten free oats, which are oats free from cross contamination with wheat but not free from avenin.

Have you been diagnosed with Celiac disease recently and need expert help to get you back to health?  Contact me for an appointment and I can offer dietary advice, shopping trips and supplementation recommendation to get you back to health quickly.

More on celiac disease tomorrow…

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