“I only cheat once in awhile. You know, like twice a week…”
If you have celiac disease, you damage your body EVERY TIME you ingest gluten. That may sound bad, but it gets worse.
You can DIE from celiac disease in a variety of ways. None of them are fun. Some take longer than others. Some may not kill you per se, but rather they may stop you from enjoying life, make you suffer from chronic pain or limit your potential.
Celiac disease is a deadly serious condition caused by eating what is essentially a poison to susceptible people – gluten proteins in wheat, barley, rye and oats.
Here are just 6 examples how celiac disease from gluten ingestion can kill you:
1. Dehydration – Extreme damage to the intestinal lining can lead to death through dehydration. In this case, the lining that is supposed to hold water in your body no longer functions. The gut actually pulls water from your body. You basically die from diarrhea and leaky gut.
2. Malignancies (Cancers) – Malabsorption of nutrients or consistent damage to cellular structures leads to cancers: lymphoma, leukemia, intestinal, esophageal. Since omega-3 fatty acid deficiency can lead to a number of cancers, other cancers may be caused by celiac disease as well.
3. Pregnancy complications – Nutrient deficiencies can lead to cardiomyopathy in the mother or birth defects in the fetus from folic acid deficiency, protein deficiency, etc.
4. Immunodeficiency – A weakened immune system can allow common illnesses to become deadly – the flu for example. Other illnesses that should normally be fought off are not.
5. Autoimmune diseases – Celiac disease, if not diagnosed and treated early, causes the body to react to other things in the body. As the body tries unsuccessfully to attack and remove gluten (because the person keeps eating it), the immune system stays on a heightened alert and starts attacking other things.
6. Malnutrition – Any health problem that comes from malnutrition of any one or more nutrients that lead to death can be caused by celiac disease. A broken hip from osteoporosis that does not heal is one such example. Another can be dementia from vitamin b12 deficiency.
These are just six ways celiac disease can kill. They are not all of them and should not be taken as an inclusive list.
“I’m just gluten sensitive. I don’t have celiac disease.” A disturbing trend is the use of the term “gluten sensitivity” as if this is a separate issue from celiac disease. The truth is that celiac disease is a form of gluten sensitivity, which is defined as any adverse health reaction to gluten. Celiac disease is a spectrum disorder, with very mild symptoms on one end and death on the other.
Also, celiac disease tests are not as specific as once thought. You can test negative one day and positive three months later. Just because you do not have intestinal damage today, does not mean you will not in a year, two years or five years from now and be classified as having celiac disease. Until that point, you may be classified as gluten sensitive if gluten gives you symptoms.
Malabsorption of nutrients occurs before intestinal damage can be seen under a microscope, so you may have symptoms from nutrient deficiencies for years before your doctor sees villus atrophy or enough damage has occurred that one of the tiny biopsy samples contains it.
If you have celiac disease it is important to understand that the gluten-free diet is the complete elimination of gluten from the diet. That said, the gluten-free diet is just the first step toward wellness. The next step is determining any health problems that have arisen and treating them. The final step is ongoing identification of health problems that arise in the future to determine how to treat yourself.
You can find a list of symptoms that are related to celiac disease in the Glutenfreeworks.com Symptom Guide. To determine whether nutrient deficiencies are causing your problems, subscribe to the Gluten Free Works Health Guide. This website will give you a complete understanding of gluten, gluten sensitivity, celiac disease, the symptoms of celiac disease, which nutritional deficiencies cause each problem and the dietary sources highest in the missing nutrients.
Author Information: John Libonati, Philadelphia, PA
President-elect, Celiac Sprue Association (CSA).
Editor & Publisher, Recognizing Celiac Disease.
John can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.