Celiac Disease was not on my radar. All I knew, was that children with autism often responded well to a Gluten Free diet. The fact that there might be an underlying disease that would make gluten/wheat products unsafe for my son didn’t cross my mind.
That’s until, diabetes was diagnosed. In the diabetes training, they taught us about co morbid diseases that often affect more diabetics than those without. Some of these diseases included kidney failure, heart issues, blindness, slow healing… that all sounded familiar.
However, when they listed Celiac Disease, I smiled, nodding in agreement. Truth be told, I had no idea what it was. As time went on, I met several friends who have Celiac Disease.
The definition of Celiac Disease is a hereditary intolerance to gluten which causes damage in the small intestine, which can lead to mal-absorption of nutrients. It affects the villi of the small intestine. Normal small intestines look shag like, while Celiac affected villi look mucousy.
Gluten is the common name for the water-insoluble (will not dissolve in water) proteins found in all cereal grains. The gluten is what is found in: wheat, rye, and barley; this protein is what causes damage to the small intestine.
Unfortunately, the only relief from this disease is allowing the gut to heal by taking gluten out of the diet. This diet eliminates all foods prepared with wheat, rye, oats, or barley and all of their derivatives. (The elimination of oats is controversial).
Replacement foods or grains in this diet include: rice, corn, potato, tapioca, arrowroot, bean, lentil, sorghum, among others. Other rare replacements (that are gaining popularity) include: Indian rice grass, mesquite, soy, buckwheat, millet, quinoa, teff, and amaranth.
All food labels must be carefully examined. Cross contamination is a big issue. Medications can include gluten. Play dough, among other products may contain gluten as well.
If you know someone who has Celiac, and you are concerned about a food: it is best to investigate and find out the answer BEFORE ingesting a food. New laws by the FDA require clear warnings be posted on packaging if a product contains wheat. Look for these five “warning” words when concerned: Wheat, Rye, Oats, Barley, and Malt. All of the warning words contain gluten (or have a high chance of it being contaminated with it).
From friend’s situations, usually patients experience terrible abdomen discomfort for a while. Celiac is found with a blood test. After the positive blood test, they scoped my son (called an Endoscopy). During this procedure, the GI took biopsies of Champ’s small intestine and esophagus.
The GI felt certain he had Celiac because his villi looked very inflamed. Surprisingly, Champ’s biopsies did not grow as expected. We were told not to continue the Gluten Free diet.
However, when we do add in gluten, Champ has high blood sugar with Type 1 Diabetes. His blood work also comes back that he is positive for Celiac, when he is eating Gluten. For Champ’s longevity, we decided to keep him gluten free as much as possible. It seems his body does not like Gluten.
Do you have a loved ones with Celiac Disease or Gluten Intolerance? Or have you decided to be Gluten Free for behavior? Or… do you have a Gluten sensitivity, where you feel better when you don’t eat Gluten (like me). Or… are you just one of those “cool kids” that gets to eat the rolls, pancakes, pasta, and desserts and could care less (I might loathe you by the way, not you just your freedom with eating – ha!).
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