What’s Celiac Disease? Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment

What’s Celiac Disease?

So to answer the question ‘What’s celiac disease?’ – it refers to a disorder of the immune system. People with this disease are unable to tolerate gluten as it harms the small intestine’s lining, thereby resulting in an inability to absorb necessary nutrition.

The body has its own line of defense called the immune system, which typically guards the body against infection.  It is responsible for defending against unsafe bacteria, chemicals, and viruses.

What’s Celiac Disease and do I have it?

People with Celiac disease have a condition of the immune system that leads to incorrect stimulation of the system after the consumption of gluten.  They can be relieved of these symptoms by going on a specific diet for celiac disease.

This condition results in your small intestine suffering the most; just the ingestion of gluten causes a response in the immune system. Due to the immune system being activated inappropriately, this lowers the ability of your body to take in nutrients.

There are a number of symptoms that can be triggered by consuming foods that contain gluten. Some of which, are:-

  • flatulence and bloating
  • diarrhoea
  • weight loss
  • abdominal pain
  • children not growing at the expected rate
  • often feeling tired, due to malnutrition (not absorbing enough nutrients)

The range of these symptoms can be from mild to severe.

Causes of Celiac Disease

First of all, Celiac disease refers to a condition of the autoimmune system, whereby the body’s infection defense – falsely attacks healthy tissue.  The causes of the immune system to behave this way are not clear, although what does play a part, is a combination of the environment and a person’s genetic make-up.

Celiac Disease Diagnosis

Celiac disease is easily confused with other more common medical conditions, like lactose intolerance and IBS. Therefore, if you suffer from some of those chronic symptoms previously mentioned, it’s important to rule it out.

A simple blood test can diagnose it, however, it is very important to let your doctor know if you have been abstaining from gluten in your diet before your blood test since it can mask the results.

If your blood test shows that you may suffer from Celiac, your doctor may want to confirm it by performing a biopsy of the small intestine.

What’s Gluten About?whats celiac disease

Gluten is a protein found in three types of cereal:    barley, wheat, rye.

Foods containing the above grains, include:

cakes,  pasta,  breakfast cereals, certain sauces

most types of bread, some pre-packaged meals,

Also, most beers are made with barley.

*You could make your own gluten-free bread.

*There are gluten-free beers that taste just as good and are a better alternative.

What’s Celiac Disease’s Treatment?

Changing to a celiac disease diet should keep symptoms under control and prevent the long-term consequences of the disease.  Diet is the only remedy for celiac disease.

That being said, if symptoms are mild or non-existent, it’s highly recommended to go gluten free, to ward off any serious complications.

It is important when going gluten-free that your diet is balanced and, of course, healthy. In recent years, the range of foods that are gluten free has risen giving more variety to those who will benefit from this diet.What celiac disease

Treating Celiac disease can improve risks for lymphoma and osteoporosis, and therefore is something that should not be ignored. It is also important to treat any nutritional deficiencies, including iron, vitamin B12, vitamin D, and folate.

Complications – Celiac Disease

Regarding complications of people who have celiac disease, they only seem to affect those who continually eat gluten or who haven’t been diagnosed.  This may be the case for those with mild symptoms.

Possible complications in the long term can be:

  • iron deficiency anemia
  • vitamin B12 and folate deficiency anemia
  • osteoporosis (weakening of the bones)

Complications which are not as common, but more serious, include some types of cancer, like bowel cancer, and issues that  affect pregnancy.  For instance, having a baby with a lower birth rate than expected.

Who Is Affected By Celiac disease?

Coeliac disease is a condition affecting about 1 in every 133 people in the USA.  This disease is 2 to 3 times greater in women than men and can develop at any age. The onset of symptoms is most likely:

  • during infant-hood – between 8 to 12 months of age (although an accurate diagnosis could take some years)
  • later years of adulthood – amid the ages of 40 to 60 years.


FODMAPs – This is an abbreviation of Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols which are names for food molecules that are not easily absorbed by certain people.  They are in many foods one of which is wheat.

The inability to properly digest these foods leads to a variety of digestive symptoms.

In fact, there is some evidence that many people with “gluten sensitivity” are actually sensitive to FODMAPs, not gluten.whats celiac disease

A study consisting of 37 participants with gluten sensitivity were put on a decreased FODMAP diet, that reduced the symptoms. Afterwards they were given isolated amounts of gluten, which had no affect on their digestion.

This shows that FODMAPs are most likely the main culprit for a lot of people who believe they have a negative reaction to gluten.

Resource:  Here is a good article for a Fodmaps Food List.