What Is Celiac Disease? How Does It Impact Your Gut Health?

Gut health with celiac disease

If you have celiac disease, eating gluten triggers an immune response in your small intestine. Over time, this reaction damages your small intestine lining and even prevents absorption of some nutrients (malabsorption).

The intestinal damage often causes diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss, bloating and anemia, and can lead to serious complications.

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Gluten intolerance, also known as celiac disease, sprue or gluten-sensitive enteropathy, occurs when your body cannot tolerate the gluten found in wheat, barley or rye. Celiac disease is also known as:

  • Sprue
  • Nontropical Sprue
  • Gluten-sensitive enteropathy

Gluten is also found in oats that have been made in processing plants that handle other grains. It can even be found in some medicines, vitamins, and lipsticks.

Gluten intolerance, also known as gluten sensitivity, is characterized by the body’s inability to digest or break down gluten.

Some people with gluten intolerance have a mild sensitivity to gluten, while others have celiac disease which is an autoimmune disorder.

In celiac disease, the immune response to gluten creates toxins that destroy the villi. Villi are tiny finger-like protrusions inside the small intestines.

When the villi become damaged, the body is unable to absorb nutrients from food. This can lead to malnutrition and other serious health complications, including permanent intestinal damage.

Symptoms of Celiac Disease

a) Gastrointestinal Symptoms

Symptoms of gluten intolerance may occur in the digestive tract. Children may experience gastrointestinal symptoms more than adults. Include abdominal cramping, bloating, intestinal gas and changes in bowel patterns.

Diarrhea or constipation may occur with pale, foul-smelling and fatty stools. Digestive symptoms of gluten intolerance may mimic symptoms of other diseases, like irritable bowel syndrome or Crohn’s disease.

b) Rash

Dermatitis herpetiformis may occur if you have gluten intolerance. Antibodies released from gluten ingestion deposit under the first layer of skin, causing groups of watery, itching blisters.

This condition may be the only sign of gluten intolerance in some people. Symptoms include patches of itchy skin that are often painful to the touch.

The rash may develop into raised areas of skin that turn into small, watery blisters that are intensely itchy. Skin problems commonly develop on the elbows, knees, buttocks, face, scalp, and shoulders.

If you experience symptoms of dermatitis herpetiformis, following a gluten-free diet is a must to prevent intestinal damage from occurring.

c) Fatigue

Gluten causes the destruction of tiny fingerlike projections inside the small intestine, villi, in people with celiac disease.

Villi are essential for nutrient absorption. When too many villi are damaged, malnourishment and lack of energy may occur. You may experience bouts of fatigue or suffer from long-term, chronic fatigue with gluten intolerance.

Once a gluten-free diet is established, villi are often able to heal and nutrient absorption increases which may help relieve fatigue over time.

d) Musculoskeletal Problems

Thinning bones and osteoporosis may occur in people with a long-standing history of being undiagnosed with celiac disease, due to a lack of calcium absorption. You may experience other joint problems, including joint pain and arthritis.

Children with undiagnosed celiac disease may suffer from stunted growth. Muscles and nerves may also be affected, causing generalized muscle pain and tingling and numbness of the hands or feet

Fast Facts About Celiac Disease

  • Around 83% of Americans with celiac disease are undiagnosed or misdiagnosed with other conditions.
  • The only existing treatment for celiac disease is a gluten-free diet.
  • Around 5-22% of people with celiac disease have a first-degree relative with the condition.

Foods to Avoid in Celiac Disease

A person with celiac disease must avoid all foods that contain gluten, even in the smallest amounts. These include:

  • Any food made with cereals such as wheat, barley, triticale, rye, and malt
  • Bread
  • Beer
  • Some candies
  • Many desserts
  • Cereals
  • Cakes and pies
  • French fries
  • Pasta
  • Processed Meats
  • Soups
  • Sauce Mixes
  • Brown-rice syrup
  • Malt derivatives, including malt loaf, malt vinegar, brewer’s yeast, and malt-based beer and malted milk or milkshakes
  • Some types of soy sauce

Foods to Eat in Celiac Disease


Many foods are naturally gluten-free. These include:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Fresh eggs
  • Fresh Meats
  • Fish and poultry
  • Unprocessed beans
  • Seeds and nuts
  • Most dairy products
  • White rice

5 Natural Nutrients That Can Improve Your Gut

To have a strong gut, you need to be on a very strict gluten-free diet and that includes no cross contamination.

In addition to this, you also need to take into consideration the following – a generic recommendation for a healthy diet:   

  • Daily caloric consumption should be similar to the daily caloric burn out.
  • Consume unprocessed food.
  • Limit salt/sodium consumption.
  • Eat more vegetables and fruits – the more colorful and varied, the better.
  • Limit consumption of fats and prefer unsaturated fats to saturated and trans fats.
  • Drink sufficient amounts of fluid.
  • Limit sugar intake.
  • Eat fiber-rich food.
  • Limit red meat consumption and balance it out with fish, poultry, nuts, and beans.
  • Consume a sufficient amount of vegetables and vitamins.

If you have been on a strict gluten-free diet, some common issues may arise like your hemoglobin will always be slightly low, calcium levels need to be increased and the gut needs to be very strong. Some of the things you can eat to improve your gut naturally are as follows:

1. Betaine HCL

Spinach and beetroot are excellent natural sources of Betaine HCL to increase your hemoglobin. Betaine HCL is a hydrochloric salt of betaine, which serves as a gastric juice acidifier.

Bunch of raw spinach and beetroot
Bunch of raw spinach and beetroot

By lowering gastric pH, betaine HCL activates the gastric protein, which degrades enzymes and stimulates the digestive process.

Most kids can’t eat beetroot in a salad, so just add beetroot to your roti atta, chocolate cake or pasta sauce.

Spinach can be boiled and pureed to make green pasta or green risotto. The easiest thing to make would be Palak Corn or Palak Chicken.

2. Probiotics

Probiotics help in maintaining the good bacteria in your gut. The best source is yogurt or buttermilk.

3. Prebiotics

Prebiotics are non-digestible carbohydrate-based food ingredients that stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract. The opposite of probiotics, prebiotics are not living microorganisms but rather heat-resistant, fiber-like substances.

The health effect of prebiotics is brought about by increased production of short-chain fatty acids by stimulated bacteria which feed the gut microorganisms and provide energy to the cells that form the intestinal lining.

Some of the natural sources of prebiotics are garlic, onions, asparagus, and leeks. They help the gut absorb calcium, magnesium and vitamin D.

4. Magnesium

Magnesium controls gastric acid production, gastric emptying, intestinal motility as well as bile secretion and digestive enzyme production.

Early signs of lack of magnesium are bloating, constipation and cramps. The best natural sources of magnesium are almonds, seeds of pumpkin or melon and green leafy vegetables.

5. Curcumin

The main ingredient of turmeric is curcumin which stimulates the gallbladder to produce bile and facilitates the breakdown of the large fat globule, thus improving digestion.

Want to know more about how to steer clear of many such diseases and lead a healthy fulfilling life? Get in touch with our expert Possible Nutritionist today. The first consultation is on us. Click here to avail.

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