There is almost nothing worse than a gastrointestinal disorder. When your intestines are infected with bacteria and disease, you are kept captive from enjoying life and instead must suffer with cramps, diarrhea, bloating and other unpleasant, and uncontrollable, symptoms. Unfortunately, this is something that sufferers of coeliac disease are all too familiar with.
What is coeliac disease?
Coeliac disease is a disease of your digestive system that interrupts your small intestines ability to absorb nutrients. You see, when you eat food, it travels down your esophagus and into your stomach. In your stomach, the food is broken down by stomach acid and then moves into the small intestine. In the small intestine, nutrients are leached out of the food you have eaten and they are used by the body to complete its daily activities. Once it has travelled through your small intestines and everything of use has been taken, it moves into your colon and eventually the waste product is removed.
When you have coeliac disease you are unable to get nutrients or tolerate foods that contain gluten. Gluten is a protein that is left in whole grain foods. When their starch is removed by your small intestine, the gluten (or protein) is all that remains. People with coeliac disease must avoid foods with gluten. These include wheat, barley and rye as well as any products made out of those ingredients.
If coeliac disease sufferers should eat gluten filled products then their body will try to attack the gluten. Unfortunately, in doing so, their bodies actually attack the lining of their small intestine which is, if you’ll remember, the place where nutrient absorption takes place. When they do this they hurt the small intestines ability to absorb nutrients and they risk malnutrition.
What are the symptoms of coeliac disease?
Coeliac disease can leave you malnourished, sweaty, bloated and with very loose or greasy stool. You may lose weight rapidly or, in the case of children with coeliac disease, not gain weight when you should. Some people with coeliac disease only have fatigue and anemia—these are obviously very mild cases.
If you think you may be suffering from coeliac disease, consult your primary care physician immediately. He or she will conduct the tests and screenings necessary to discover whether or not you are suffering from this disorder or one of many others with similar symptoms.
One of the greatest fears of people with coeliac disease is that they will need to give up all of their favorite foods. You see, gluten is a common ingredient in many foods that you eat everyday without even realizing that they contain gluten. It is generally not until you are diagnosed with coeliac disease and you begin to investigate which foods are safe and which are not that you realize the true scope of the problem. In fact, many over the counter vitamins, medicines and other products contain gluten. Of course, of you ignore this and keep eating as usual you can eventually become malnourished which is hard to justify.
A trip to your local whole foods store may put all your fears at bay. Whole foods store are embracing many gluten free products that are safe for a coeliac disease diet. Foods like chicken nuggets, bread, cookies, crackers and even some ice cream are rendered edible with the use of gluten free ingredients and gluten, rye, wheat and barley substitute. An added benefit is that these foods are organic so not only will your health improve as your body stops attacking your small intestine, but you will be eating fewer pesticides, toxins and farm animal antibiotics.
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