In 2007, Gluten Free Works published "Recognizing Celiac Disease," the first work to present over 300 signs, symptoms, associated disorders and complications gathered from documented medical research from around the world. The book proved that researchers were finding hundreds of health problems associated with celiac disease and gluten. This list is now being used by celiac disease centers, national celiac organizations and health organizations to help identify at risk patients and determine whether patient symptoms are consistent with celiac disease.
But how can one disorder cause so many problems? Here's a look at one way...nutritional deficiencies.
When our body does not get the nutrients it calls for in hunger, something won't work right (malfunctions). Symptoms of malfunction result from nutritional deficiencies (malnutrition) caused by failure of our small intestine to absorb needed nutrients into our bloodstream (malabsorption). After eliminating gluten in the diet (gluten-free diet), deficiencies in celiac disease may be due to:
- slow or incomplete healing of the small intestine, so malabsorption continues.
- not eating foods rich in needed nutrients, so nutrients are not available to absorb.
- eating too much fiber with meals, which can bind nutrients, so nutrients cannot get absorbed.
As a caution, there are other causes of nutrient deficiencies such as small bowel bacterial overgrowth or microbial infections that may be present.
How important is it to correct a nutrient deficiency? Very. Take zinc deficiency for example. Zinc deficiency is marked by low energy, fatigue, slow wound healing, frequent infections, nervousness, depression, anorexia, impaired taste and smell, skin rashes an disorders including eczema, acne, psoriasis, photophobia, male infertility and white spots on fingernails. In children and youths, anemia, hypogonadism and short stature develop. Zine deficiency in pregnancy includes increased maternal morbidity, abnormal taste sensations, abnormally short or prolonged gestations, inefficient labor, atonic bleeding, and increased risks to fetus such as malformations, growth retardation, prematurity, and perinatal death. Severe deficiency results in immunologic disorders including thymic atrophy, deficient thymic hormone, lymphopenia and worsening of diarrhea.(1)
So we see that literally dozens of health problems can result from just one deficient nutrient. The severity of symptoms depends on the level of deficiency. Should multiple deficiencies exist, problems build up. The longer the body is lacking, the greater is the likelihood of complications.
Since all the problems stemming from nutritional deficiencies are easily avoidable if celiac disease is discovered early, it is important to suspect celiac disease first whenever an ailment shows a nutritional deficiency.
(1) "Recognizing Celiac Disease," page 74.