Celiac Disease. Is it a Celtic Condition?
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Celiac Disease explained
Celiac Disease a Celtic Disease?
Recently I have been doing a lot of research into Gluten Intolerance as I now know this is a common condition among us on the Autism Spectrum. However I think the more I read on the subject the more I realize I am actually opening a Pandora’s Box to other associated diseases and conditions. All these conditions seem to be ultimately caused by one and the same thing i.e. our modern diet is not suited to our bodies.
So in our quest for fast food, and the pressure to increase ever dwindling food supplies and in our effort to vaccinate our meat supplies and spray our vegetables with a multitude of toxins our human bodies are starting to protest. It amazes me how much our diets have changed even in the last thirty years.
With the explosion of new foods and more exotic tastes seems to have come an ever increasing number of people who are now suffering from Celiac Disease, Gluten Intolerance and Candida or in some cases all of the above which it is often suggested are all linked to each other.
Now I know there is also an argument that all these conditions have been there for a very long time and it is actually just that we are all much more aware of them now and seek a diagnosis for them and of course this has probably had an effect on the increase too but can it really explain that it is now estimated that 1 person out of every 122 in Ireland potentially has Celiac Disease? This is what is leading me to ask is Celiac Disease a condition that is more common among people of Celtic Origin?
What is Celiac Disease?
Celiac disease which is also often known as Coeliac disease or Celiac sprue is defined in the ‘The Merck Manual,’ as being, ‘a chronic intestinal malabsorption disorder caused by intolerance to gluten.’
What is Gluten exactly?
Basically the body is allergic to anything ingested that contains gluten which is defined in the the free dictionary.com as being
1. The mixture of proteins, including gliadins and glutelins, found in wheat grains, which are not soluble in water and which give wheat dough its elastic texture.
2.Any of the prolamins found in cereal grains, especially the prolamins in wheat, rye, barley, and possibly oats that cause digestive disorders such as celiac disease.
So in Celiac Disease the body cannot adequately break down gluten and this leads to all sorts of problems for the person with Celiac Disease. It is described as being a digestive disease that leads to damage of the small intestine which in turn leads to your body not being able to absorb the nutrients it needs from certain foods to stay healthy.
So when a person with Celiac Disease eats a food or uses a produce containing gluten their immune system reacts to it in an attempt to counteract the ill effects that it will cause. When people with celiac disease eat foods or use products containing gluten, their immune system responds by damaging or destroying villi these are the tiny, finger like protrusions lining the small intestine. Villi normally allow nutrients from food to be absorbed through the walls of the small intestine into the bloodstream. Without healthy villi, a person becomes malnourished, no matter how much food you eat.
What are the common Symptoms of Celiac Disease?
It is very difficult to pinpoint the exact symptoms of Celiac Disease and that is often why it can be so tricky to diagnose. Just because one person may present with a particular set of symptoms does not mean the next person will necessarily have the same set of complaints. Also these symptoms can also indicate the presence of many other conditions so often before a diagnosis can be even suggested it is a painstaking process of eliminating other causes first.
Also it is commonly believed that if you have Celiac Disease you must be underweight or malnourished but this has now proved to be not necessarily so. As people may be ingesting a lot of calories which is leading to them putting on weight but they are getting no nutrients from what they are eating and that is why they invariably feel so bad which then compounds their weight issue.
Some Common symptoms of Celiac Disease:
· Anaemia or unexplained iron deficiency
· A scaly rash called dermatitis herpetiformis
· Mouth canker or sores
· Unexplained tiredness
· Tingling sensation in the hands and feet
· Infertility or repeated miscarriages
· Depression and anxiety
· Joint or bone pain
· Cessation of the menstrual cycle
N.B. Note: It is also worth noting that a person will not necessarily have these symptoms they are just the most common ones that have been recorded. No definite diagnosis of Celiac Disease can ever be made without having the appropriate tests carried out by a medical professional.
Why are the symptoms of Celiac Disease so varied?
This is a question that is impossible to answer conclusively but many researchers have suggested that there are some indicators that may affect the manifestation of symptoms including:
· The length of time a child was breastfed can affect how long it takes for symptoms of Celiac disease to appear
· At what age a person started eating gluten-containing foods
· The amount of gluten containing food a person has in their diet
· How much damage has been done to the small intestine before a diagnosis is made
· It is common for people to have Celiac disease for ten years or more before they are diagnosed.
Why seek a Celiac Disease Diagnosis?
The longer a person goes without getting a diagnosis for Celiac Disease the more likely they are to have developed long term complications such as:
· Type 1 Diabetes
· Autoimmune Thyroid Disease
· Autoimmune liver Disease
· Addison’s Disease
How is Celiac Disease Diagnosed?
As already stated Celiac Disease can be notoriously hard to diagnose because it can often be misdiagnosed as a number of other conditions with similar symptoms such as:
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Anemia due to menstrual blood loss
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
The only way to accurately diagnose Celiac Disease though is to begin with blood tests.
Please note that you need to be consuming gluten foods for at least six weeks before having a test done for Celiac Disease. So if you have given up gluten before the test the results may not be accurate.
It has been determined that people with Celiac Disease have above average levels of certain proteins in their blood i.e. anti-tissue transglutaminase antibodies tTga) or anti-endomysium antibodies (EMA). So you should expect to receive blood results that include these item readings.
Then if blood tests indicate that it could be Celiac Disease a biopsy of the small intestine then needs to be arranged to confirm this diagnosis. During the biopsy the doctor will remove tissues from the small intestine to see if the villi are damaged which would indicate Celiac Disease.
Treatment for Celiac Disease:
The only effective treatment for Celiac Disease is a gluten free diet. So a person who has been diagnosed will most likely be referred to a dietician to discuss what changes you need to make to your diet and to make sure you still get adequate nutrition from your food.
Once you start a gluten free diet you should notice an improvement within 7 to 14 days. In a child the small intestine may heal quickly but in an adult it may take several months or even years depending on the amount of damage that has already been done.
If you are not feeling better on the gluten free diet then it is likely that you are still ingesting small amounts of wheat in items that might not obviously contain wheat or gluten e.g. modified food starch, preservatives, or maybe you are consuming food that although it doesn’t contain gluten it has been processed in a factory where wheat or gluten is also processed.
Really it is a process of elimination at this stage and it is useful to keep a diary of what you eat and then you can go back and check the foods you ate that may have made you feel bad.
There are many useful websites you can go to too which provide great recipes and useful tips. There are also many Hubbers here on Hub Pages who regularly post great Gluten Free recipes so why not have a browse here too. Some links added at the end of this article also.
Are us Celts more prone to Celiac Disease?
On doing a bit of research on this subject it does appear that there are a lot of theories out there that indicate that Celiac Disease is often more common among people of Celtic Origin. Celtic people are traditionally red haired and pale skinned and of Scandinavian origin. They recognise the predominance of Celiac Disease this to such an extent in Finland that you can now apparently get Gluten Free burgers in McDonalds.
However overall it is believed that 1% of the world’s population have Celiac Disease and it is not just people of Celtic origin. Although here in Ireland statistics indicate that 1 person in 122 could have Celiac disease and unfortunately for many it is not diagnosed until all sorts of other ailments and conditions have also manifested themselves because of the body’s ongoing allergic reaction to the ingestion of gluten.Celiac Disease is definitely a condition to be aware of if you or other family members are of Celtic origin as a large number of us are here in Ireland. Whether you are of Celtic origin or not though if you have a close relation with Celiac Disease then genetically you are at a higher risk of developing the condition too.
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