Defining Celiac disease
Many people have asked me what it’s like to have Celiac disease. I’ve had many different answers to that question at different times in my life.
Old Mr. Webster defines Celiac disease as a “digestive disorder in which people cannot tolerate gluten, a protein constituent of wheat, barley, malt, and rye flours. In celiac disease, gluten generates an immune response that damages the mucous lining of the small intestine; it is believed that a deficiency of gluten-digesting enzymes may underlie the disease. Poor nutrient absorption causes foul, bulky, fatty stools; malnutrition; stunting of growth; and anemia similar to pernicious anemia. It can run in families. Children begin having intermittent intestinal upset, diarrhea, and wasting at 6–21 months. In adults it usually begins after 30, with appetite loss, depression, irritability, and diarrhea. Symptoms in advanced cases stem from nutritional deficiencies and may require supportive measures. A high-protein diet low in glutens and saturated fats usually relieves symptoms.”
This is medically accurate, but it doesn’t begin to encompass the multitude of symptoms and complications from this autoimmune disease. Not everyone has the same symptoms, and some people exhibit no symptoms at all. Anyone with Celiac disease will recognize the migraine headaches, body aches, bone-weary exhaustion, explosive bowel movements, mental fog…and that’s just the highlights. The good thing – a gluten free diet will often reverse the damage to the small intestine, and will most likely eliminate reduce or eliminate most of the symptoms of Celiac disease.