Celiac Disease: What you need to know

Gluten free food and gluten free lifestyles have been gaining popularity recently, but it’s not just a fad. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that results in damage to the lining of the small intestine when foods with gluten are consumed. The damage to the intestine makes it difficult for the body to absorb nutrients, especially folate, fat, calcium and iron.

What causes Celiac Disease?

When people with celiac disease eat gluten, their immune system forms antibodies to gluten, which attack the intestinal lining. This causes inflammation and damage to the villi.

What are the some symptoms?

  • Digestive problems
  • Iron deficiency anemia
  • A skin rash called dermatitis herpetiformis
  • Growth problems in children
  • Muscle cramps, joint and bone pain
  • Tingling sensations in legs caused by nerve damage and low calcium
  • Seizures

Celiac disease can also lead to other health problems, including:

  • Osteoporosis
  • Miscarriages or infertility
  • Birth defects
  • Seizures
  • Cancer of the intestine (very rare)

The only treatment for celiac disease is to become gluten free. Once gluten is removed from your diet, it usually only takes a few days for the condition to improve. The symptoms will eventually end and the villi should heal within 6 months. You will have to remain on a gluten free diet for the rest of your life, and because there are so many gluten free options in stores and restaurants these days, it’s easy to keep up with the lifestyle.

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