I fairly recently discovered that I am coeliac.
Since then I gained a CPD certificate on food intolerances and coeliac disease (Higher Nature Academy).
I am enjoying learning and discovering new foods.
As a celiac, with the right diet I have renewed energy and vitality.
I have always been very healthy and it shocked me to realise I didn’t know I had it for so long. I hear more and more about people that discover it late in life and I am now convinced that coeliac is under-diagnosed. I believe many more have it without knowing about it.
WHAT IS COELIAC DESEASE?
Basically it’s an autoimmune disorder where your body considers gluten, and often cross-reacting foods, such as dairy, a foreign body to attack.
An over-active (or under-active) immune system can be very problematic for a number of reasons and it definitely compromises health.
Asthma, eczema, anaemia, rheumatoid arthritis, fertility issues and even mental illnesses have all been linked with over active immune disorders.
The good news is that, as a coeliac, with the appropriate diet, you are going to be super-healthy feeling energetic and positive! Yes, food affects mood big time!
COELIAC DESEASE SYMPTOMS
- Mental fog and difficulty concentrating
- Joint pain
- Digestive problems (e.g oral intolerance/ mouth ulcers, bloating, constipation or diarrhoea)
RISKS FACTORS IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF FOOD SENSITIVITIES
70% of our immune system is based in the gut! So anything that affects the lining of the gut or the gut flora poses a risk for allergies or sensitivities.
You are more at risk of developing food sensitivities or allergies if you have one of the following:
- Immature lining of the gut, for example from early weaning.
- Inadequate challenge of the intestinal mucosal system, for example from an over-hygienic childhood. A certain degree of exposure to bacteria is a very healthy thing.
- Poor digestion or increased intestinal permeability, for example due to inflammation.
- Gastrointestinal infections.
And more, such as genetics.
HEALTH DANGERS FOR PEOPLE WITH COELIAC
The main concern is damage to small intestinal lining and atrophy of a part of the small intestine (vilis). This means the body will work sub-optimally in the absorption of nutrients from foods. And of course, without the right nutrients, the body tends to get sick in some form or the other.
People with coeliac disease tend to be deficient in some or all of the following:
B12, Folate, Iron, Vit. A, D, E, K. Selenium, calcium, magnesium, carnitine.
B12: helps to keep the body’s nerves and blood cells healthy and helps make DNA.
Folate: (a form of B vitamin) is very important to make DNA.
Iron: is key for healthy oxygen-carrying red blood cells.
Vitamin A: is fundamental for normal vision. It also plays a role in the immune system, reproductive system as well as being supportive of the kidneys, heart and lung function.
Vitamin D: important in the absorption of calcium and bone health.
Vitamin E: works as an antioxidant in the body protecting it from free radical damage. It keeps you young basically!
Vitamin K: important for bone health, heart function and blood clotting.
Selenium: an antioxidant that plays a role in metabolism and thyroid function
Calcium: so important for bone and teeth health, muscle function, nerve function and blood clotting.
Magnesium: is involved in more then 300 enzyme functions, regulating diverse biochemical reactions. Also important for muscle and nerve function as well as blood glucose control and blood pressure regulation.
Carnitine: an amino acid involved in energy production and metabolism. Helping you stay strong and in shape.
It’s quite obvious why rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis are risks for people with coeliac disease as well as thyroiditis, anemia and neurological dysfunction if the diet is not appropriate.
The good news is that, as a coeliac, with the appropriate diet you are going to be super-healthy and strong, feeling energetic and positive! Yes, diet also affects mood.
People with coeliac disease need to pay attention to cross-contamination, especially if living in a household where gluten is used and when eating out.
Even though some celiac have a threshold of tolerance (10mg a day) before experiencing symptoms, for others the smallest trace of gluten can trigger an immunological reaction.
So making sure food is prepared on different surfaces, using different knives and pans is fundamental.
It’s important to distinguish cross contamination from cross-reacting foods, usually proteins such as casein (from dairy).
Cross-reactions happen when other forms of proteins have a close enough molecular structure to be identified by the immune as the same ‘invader’. In this case the immune system will ‘play safe’ and tag those proteins with the same immune response as it would with gluten.
So it is important to be tested for other foods you eat if symptoms persist.
THE PALEOLITHIC DIET
If you have discovered you are celiac or if you are reading this because some of your friends are celiac and you invited them over for dinner, you may wonder what the hell I am going to prepare for dinner?
What I find works well for myself is a paleolithic type of diet.
The idea behind paleo diet is that our digestion hasn’t changed in hundreds of thousand of years. Yet the food we eat today has changed enormously, mainly after the introduction of agriculture.
By the way, agriculture has depleted the ecosystem from its natural variety and has dramatically increased grain (sugar) consumption. This is in the opinion of many experts, the biggest mistake of evolution.
But back to the paleolitic diet, one of the myths around this is that it is high in meat.
I grew up as a vegetarian and, while I now believe that grass fed and sustainably sourced meat proteins are important for human health, I understand millions of years ago foraging or gathering was easier than hunting, so most probably our ancestors’ diet was more likely to be high in very diverse greens and herbs, nuts, seeds and fruit with the addition of eggs, fish or meat every few days.
I also add to this diet, some legumes (mainly red-split lentils and chickpeas) and some grains, mainly quinoa and brown rice.
For baking I use any or a combination of these flours:
Teff, tigernuts or chufa, rice, coconut, almond and gluten free mix of course.
I cannot finish this post without mentioning functional medicine, a branch of medicine that focuses on finding the cause of the issue rather then treating the symptoms. Assessing someone’s health with very scientific tests: blood tests, urine, faeces, breath test and genetic tests if needed; yet treating the person with an integrated, holistic approach to health.
Functional medicine doctors look at how each organ of your body works and how it relates to other organs to then treating the causes of dis-ease mainly through nutrition, addressing the lack of vitamins, minerals, amino acids etc. and if needed some smartly selected medication (e.g bio-identical versions)
Happy Healthy Living 🙂
PS. Yes, as a massage therapist and doula in North London I am a little off topic here! But nutrition is a big part of holistic health. My personal journey and passion for the topic were too big to resist the temptation not to write about this!
Pregnancy Massage specialist, Birth and Post-Natal Doula, Baby Massage Instructor.
Mobile; 07735 980 620
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- Higher Nature Accademy
- Coeliac UK
- Eleanor Strang Nutritional Therapist – Article on ‘Gluten Free’ magazine, Issue 7, 2015
- ‘The vegetarian myth’ by Lierre Keith
A Special Thank you to my wonderfully knowledgeable colleague
Naava Carman – The Fertility Support Company
Without whom I would not know about functional medicine today!
Thank you Naava.