Celiac disease has gotten a lot of attention over the last few years. It’s part of why people are now so much more aware of the presence of gluten in foods. Despite how much more prevalent celiac disease seems these days, we would like to clear up a few misconceptions.
Celiac Disease Is the Same as a Gluten Allergy or Sensitivity
Lots of people claim they have gluten because of how it negatively affects them. This leads some people to use “celiac disease,” “gluten allergy,” and “gluten sensitivity” interchangeably. These are NOT the same thing. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder, whereas a gluten allergy or gluten sensitivity is considered a food intolerance.
Celiac Disease Only Affects the Digestive System
The most common effects of celiac disease revolve around the digestive system. Those with celiac disease who consume gluten will experience symptoms in their digestive system like bloating, gas, acid reflux, constipation, abdominal pain and diarrhea. Over time, the villi in the small intestine become blunted and ineffective at absorbing nutrients. This damage can become permanent. Also, some people with celiac disease develop dermatitis herpetiformis, a painful skin rash. Celiac disease can also result in joint pain, nutritional deficiencies, behavioral disorders, leaky gut, hair loss, and dental disorders.
A Gluten-Free Diet Is Automatically Healthier
Many people have tried removing gluten from their diet as a “healthy” choice, but people without celiac disease should consider that many products with gluten contain important nutrients that may be challenging to find elsewhere. Bread and cereals, common sources of gluten, can be higher in calories so people may avoid them to maintain their weight. However, long-term gluten-free living is not necessarily good for your gut. If you do not have an illness or sensitivity, you can include appropriate amounts of gluten in a healthy diet by choosing nutritious foods that include fiber and vitamins.
Those with celiac disease must exclude gluten to live without pain, illness and intestinal damage. A healthy, nutritious gluten-free diet requires you to consume plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and healthy fats. Include gluten-free whole grains such as quinoa, brown rice, and wild rice. Avoid grains including wheat, rye, and barley, as those all contain gluten.
If you’ve been diagnosed with celiac disease, it’s important to sort the correct information from disinformation. Make sure you get your information from reputable sources that have the background to give you reliable information. Remember, you can always ask your gastroenterologist any questions you might have about celiac disease, how it works, and what changes you should make so you can live a full, healthy life.
Wondering if you have celiac disease? Click here to see a list of celiac disease symptoms provided by Granite Peaks Gastroenterology.