May is Celiac Awareness month and in its honor, this article will bring up some facts and bust some myths, perhaps solve a mystery illness for someone…
“Koiliakos” from old Greek, to “Coeliac” in Europe, then “Celiac” in North America. The name has undergone some changes over the last 2,000 years (calling it a fad is myth #1). What we know has advanced, but there are still an unusually high number of misperceptions when it comes to Celiac Disease and gluten in general.
10 Things You Should Know About CD & Gluten
1) It affects far more than 1%. That number accounts for only those in the last stage of a 0-4 testing system (most of whom are still undiagnosed, so even within stage 4 that number is off).
2) 35-40% have the genes for CD. It’s not as rare a condition as most think. Most of those people are simply in earlier stages and undiagnosed.
3) Most people reacting to gluten are asymptomatic (1), meaning they show no symptoms. This is sort of true. As was the case for me, I had plenty of symptoms (eczema, headaches), but we generally ignore minor signs. The danger here is the underlying damage is still being done and once a disease has developed, it won’t always be linked back to its actual cause and it might not be reversible. Celiac itself is an irreversible autoimmune disorder (not just an allergy).
4) Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity (NCGS) is 6 times more prevalent than Celiac Disease, creates the same inflammatory issues, and has an even higher mortality rate than CD (2). The myth that NCGS isn’t as serious is hurting a lot of people.
5) Depression (3) and other neurological issues are the most common manifestation of Celiac Disease. Mood swings, difficulty focusing, memory issues… any kind of cognitive decline has been scientifically linked to gluten since the 1950s (not that gluten is the only culprit doing brain damage).
6) IBS, Hashimoto’s, and ADHD are some of the most common CD disorders that are misdiagnosed.
7) Eczema, Psoriasis. Dermatitis Herpetiformis (4) is often referred to as Celiac’s sister disease.
8) Most people with CD do not show typical gastrointestinal symptoms such as bloating, cramps, diarrhea. They show mood swings, depression, chronic fatigue, anxiety.
9) Children with CD are at higher risk for “mood disorders, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, behavioral disorders, ADHD, ASD, and intellectual disability.”(5)
10) Any food you love has a delicious gluten-free version (just be sure to make healthy choices, not all gluten-free prepared foods are good for you). It’s all about rediscovering purer ingredients.
By recognizing the signs and screening early, we can prevent the trigger of the autoimmune element and get ahead of the damage while it’s still in the food sensitivity stage. You’re now more aware. Thank you for reading this.
(1) BMJ VOL. 319 24 July 1999, 236-239.
(2) Ann Neurol 2008; 64:332-343.
(3) Aliment Pharmacol Ther 2002; 16:1333-1339.
(4) “Dermatitis herpetiformis: a cutaneous manifestation of coeliac disease” Ann Med. 2016 Aug 8:1-25
(5) Agnieszka Butwicka MD, PhD, Paul Lichtenstein, PhD, Louise Frisén, MD, PhD, Catarina Almqvist, MD, PhD, Henrik Larsson, PhD, Jonas F. Ludvigsson, MD, PhD. “Celiac Disease Is Associated with Childhood Psychiatric Disorders: A Population-Based Study.” The Journal of Pediatrics. May 2017 Volume 184, Pages 87–93.
Jaqui Karr, CGP, CSN, CVD, is a best-selling author, speaker, and corporate consultant who specializes in educating about gluten, celiac disease, specialty diets, and health through nutrition. Her popular “NakedFood” brand has helped thousands include more power raw and healing greens in their diet. Ms. Karr is a certified gluten practitioner, certified sports nutritionist, and certified vegan/vegetarian educator to dietitians. http://jaquikarr.com
Note: The statements presented in this column should not be considered medical advice or a way to diagnose or treat any disease or illness. Always seek the advice of a medical professional before altering your daily dietary regimen. The opinions presented here are those of the writer, not necessarily those of the publisher.