Have you recently been diagnosed with celiac disease and need to find a treatment? Or are you a celiac who recently ate gluten and your gut now feels tender, inflamed and out of sorts?
Fear not. There’s plenty you can do to heal your gut.
Many people are unaware of the damage that occurs in the small intestine of people with celiac disease when they eat gluten. In celiac disease sufferers, gluten peptides from wheat, rye, barley or oats cause an immune-mediated response that triggers a flattening of the fingerlike projections called microvilli that are found on the brush border of the small intestine. Those microvilli are important because they are packed with digestive enzymes which are responsible for the absorption of our nutrients.
Once celiac disease has been identified and gluten has been removed the healing process can begin. In order to heal the brush border of the small intestine we need to do three things.
Since all the villi have been flattened you can usually count on there being very little or no digestive enzyme activity. Taking a digestive enzyme for a period of time can help you absorb nutrients from your daily diet while the healing occurs so your body’s own enzyme activity can be re-established over time.
Taking a digestive enzyme that contains glutenases – i.e. digestive enzymes that digest gluten – is a great way to reduce damage from low-level gluten exposure. These enzymes derived from fungus or bacteria can efficiently digest gluten in the stomach before it makes its way to the small intestine.
Also, some people with celiac disease continue to experience the reduced production of digestive enzymes from the pancreas and may require some form of supplementation to support digestive function and nutrient absorption.
2. Heal the the small intestine
Glutamine is excellent for healing intestinal permeability and the brush border of the small intestine. Fish oil, curcumin extract derived from turmeric, slippery elm powder, aloe vera, deglycyrrhized licorice and marshmallow root are all fantastic anti-inflammatories that help heal and seal the gut wall. Find a quality health practitioner with expertise treating celiac disease for advice about which of these will be suitable for you.
3. Ensure your diet is certified gluten-free
It’s stating the obvious, but this is not negotiable. Whenever there is a contamination episode you are compromising your gut health and nutrient absorption capacity. By following a strict gluten-free diet you reduce the risk of developing other autoimmune disorders and gastrointestinal cancers and you increase your bone mineral density, body mass index and life expectancy.
In order to be certified gluten-free it is important to read the ingredient lists on packaged foods. If the food has been made on a production line that also processes wheat then, sorry, pop it back on the shelf.
If you shop at bulk wholefoods stores and they use scoops in bins full of wheat or spelt flour then, sorry, you need to avoid buying your wholefood products there. It is important to not share toasters, utensils and chopping boards if they are used for gluten containing foods too.
And how’s this for a strong incentive to play by the rules?
With each contamination episode you are looking at six weeks of gut repair. So that sneaky croissant that feels ok to eat now is definitely not ok for your insides!
Having celiac disease is not easy or fun, but proper management is possible and it can make you feel 1000 per cent better when you get it right.
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