The cause of the rise in celiac disease is perplexing scientists and doctors though they do have some theories. Most of these theories point to the gut. But first, a little history.
In this century, books like “Wheat Belly” and “Grain Brain” started the grain-free, gluten-free movement that spread rapidly throughout the nation. It may surprise you to know that the disease has been around for centuries. It was actually during WWll during a wheat shortage that scientists connected the dots from celiac to wheat.
An article by Alessio Fasano says, “Identification of gluten as the trigger for CD occurred after WWll when Dutch pediatrician Willem-Karel Dicke noticed that a war-related shortage of bread led to a significant drop in the death rate among children affected by CD from greater than 35 percent to essentially zero. He also noted that once wheat was available again, the mortality rate soared to previous levels. This led to the discovery that the major protein in the grain – gluten – was the culprit.”
Another observation of Dr. Fasano is that a triage of factors seems to be the underlying cause of developing CD.
- An environmental trigger
- A genetic susceptibility
- Unusually permeable intestinal wall or “leaky gut.”
Even more interesting is the idea that this trio seems to contribute to other autoimmune disorders, meaning that research to alleviate CD could also lead to treatments for Type 1 Diabetes, Inflammatory Bowel Disorders, and Rheumatoid Arthritis, to name a few.
The first thing a doctor suggests to the patient diagnosed with CD is to eliminate gluten from the diet. Fortunately, grocery stores and restaurants have started to accommodate the massive number of “gluten-free” patrons. However, scientists are looking for other treatments with hopes of eradicating CD during this century.
Do you suspect you have celiac disease?
If you feel you may have celiac disease, it is essential to get tested before eliminating gluten from your diet. Your doctor may suggest the following tests.
- Serology testing looks for antibodies in your blood. Elevated levels of specific antibody proteins indicate an immune reaction to gluten.
- Genetic testing for human leukocyte antigens (HLA-DQ2 and HLA-DQ8) can be used to rule out celiac disease.
- Endoscopy will allow your doctor to check your small intestine for damage.
What are the symptoms of celiac disease?
There are dozens of symptoms of celiac disease – most people equate CD with GI symptoms, but there are also brain-related symptoms. See the chart below for a partial list.
|GI Symptoms||Brain-Related Symptoms|
|Fatigue||Loss of Balance|
|Bloating & Gas||Migraines|
|Nausea & Vomiting||Neuropathy|
The first line of defense for celiac disease is to eliminate gluten from the diet. But other natural means may prove beneficial.
- Eat anti-inflammatory foods.
- Green leafy vegetables
- Olive oil
- Fatty fish like salmon or tuna
- Support a healthy gut.
- Take probiotics.
- Try collagen.
- Take digestive enzymes.
- Get enough sleep.
- Eat slowly.
- Stay hydrated.
- Eat fermented foods.
- Try supplements that alleviate inflammation.
- Vitamin C
Celiac Disease is on the rise. If you are experiencing symptoms, have a family history, or have been diagnosed with other autoimmune diseases, schedule a complimentary consultation, and we can talk about your next steps. If you are curious to learn more about Functional Medicine, read this article.