What is Gluten and How Does It Affect the Body?
Gluten sensitivity (or actual Celiac Disease) is a condition that affects people who eat gluten (a protein found in wheat, barley, and rice). Their bodies mount an immune response to Gliadin (a protein in Gluten) which affects the lining of their small intestine.
Symptoms of Gluten Sensitivity and Celiac Disease
The main symptom of celiac disease is diarrhea or multiple loose bowel movements a day. Stomach pain, bloating, gas, and weight loss may also occur. Although the primary problem in those with Celiac Disease is intolerance to gluten, there are a variety of nutritional deficiencies associated with celiac disease, primarily caused by the damaged small intestine not being able to properly absorb enough of the nutrients the human body needs. In addition, the antibodies formed may create an overall inflammatory state in the body leading to other conditions.
Gluten Sensitivity at a Glance
- Diarrhea or Multiple Loose Bowel Movements
- Stomach Pain
- Bloating Gas
- Weight Loss
How To Treat Gluten Sensitivity
The main treatment to date is to avoid these foods- easier said than done, and in doing so how does one ensure they get proper nutrition? Although there are plenty of alternate food sources to ensure adequate caloric, and protein and carb intake, many gluten-free products are not enriched and have lower amounts of folate, iron, thiamin, niacin, fiber, and riboflavin. Taking Gluten-free vitamins supplements is essential in those following a strict gluten-free diet.
6 Common Nutrient Deficiencies on a Gluten Free Diet
Folate: Folate and folic acid are forms of a water-soluble B vitamin. Folate is found naturally in food, and folic acid is its synthetic form.
Iron: Iron is a mineral the body uses in the formation of red blood cells. When the body experiences an iron deficiency, it cannot create the number of normal red blood cells required for optimal health.
Thiamine: Thiamine helps the body's covert carbohydrates into energy. Carbohydrates provide energy for the brain and nervous system. Thiamine also helps muscles contract and nerve signals operate.
Niacin: Niacin is a B vitamin that helps convert food into energy. Niacin plays a role in keeping your nervous system, digestive system, skin, hair and eyes healthy.
Fiber: Fiber is found in plants. Dietary fiber, fiber that is edible, is found in fruits, vegetables, and grains. There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber attracts water and turns to gel during digestion to slow digestion. Soluble fiber is found in oat bran, barley, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, peas, and some fruits and vegetables. Studies suggest that soluble fiber lowers cholesterol. Insoluble fiber is found in foods such as wheat bran, vegetables, and whole grains. It speeds the digestion of foods through the stomach and intestines and adds bulk to the stool.
Riboflavin: Riboflavin works with the other vitamins in the B family. It is important for body growth and red blood cell production and helps convert food into energy.
Article By Jeff Pearl, MD
Dr. Jeff is a trained general, pediatric cardiac, and transplant surgeon. Nutrition has always been an important concern for surgeons in regards to patients healing from surgery. He has had a longstanding interest in health, nutrition and supplements, and been an advocate of the use of nutrition and supplements in the hospital setting to aid in his patient’s recovery. He has a history of basic science and clinical research and a keen ability to interpret studies and statistics to determine their true significance. He is the father and step-father to several teenage athletes and knows firsthand the challenges they face in balancing their time, eating habits and use of supplements. He is adamant about trying to educate our youth about better nutrition. Dr. Jeff recognizes the challenges that healthcare faces and the need for people to take charge of their own health and disease prevention. He loves being outside and is one of those crazy few seen hiking or biking in the middle of the day in summer.