Difference between Gluten Intolerance and Celiac Disease

This article will describe the difference between Gluten Intolerance and Celiac Disease.  Much confusion and disinformation is on the internet and social media relating to these 2 topics.  I am going to outline each separate to give a clear picture.

Celiac Disease

Celiac disease is by far the least understood and most misdiagnosed condition.  It is not easy to test for because most methods of testing are inaccurate and need to be repeated multiple times to detect the disease.   The disease is an autoimmune disease that is triggered by exposure of gluten to the small intestine.  Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, and sometimes oats.  When a susceptible person eats these grains their immune system reacts by attacking the lining of the small intestine. Our small intestinal lining is not flat it has millions tiny fingerlike protrusions which make the surface area much larger allowing more surface locations for nutrient absorption.  When this lining swells it closes off the spaces between the fingers greatly decreasing absorption surface area leading to malabsorption.  The autoimmune reaction can lead to many symptoms in the gut such as gas, bloating, abdominal pain, indigestion, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation. These intestinal symptoms are usually dismissed as irritable bowel syndrome or stress. The autoimmune reaction can also set off many others symptoms related to generalized inflammation such as rashes, exacerbation of any musculoskeletal inflammation (arthritis, tendonitis, neuritis, or myofacitis), fatigue, fertility issues.   The non-intestinal symptoms which are secondary to issues of malabsorption of food are weight loss, anemia, hair loss, dental, bone and joint problems, bruising easily, and vitamin/mineral deficiencies.  In young children this condition can be detected because the child is not growing and failing to thrive as a result of the failure of the small intestine to absorb food.  In adults that develop this condition slower or have a lesser degree of the illness, it will not be detected as a child or just blamed on lactose intolerance or food allergies.

 

Gluten Intolerance

Gluten Intolerance is more evasive as a diagnosis because it is the same etiology as Celiac disease but it is less intense overreaction of our immune system.  Therefore the symptoms are less intense as related to malabsorption. The immune system has degrees of severity of out autoimmune response in almost all autoimmune diseases.  In the case of Gluten Intolerance it has to do with how inflamed the small intestine lining becomes in the presence of gluten or in other words how intense our autoimmune response has become.  The intensity of the response is obviously less than full blown Celiac Disease so it usually goes undiagnosed or misdiagnosed which leads to it becoming a chronic process.  Many people have been suffering with multiple of the Intestinal and Autoimmune symptoms but not to a degree that raised the alarm of their physician so they usually go diagnosed with IBS, Food Allergies/Intolerance, Chronic Fatigue, Migraine, Hashimoto’s, and orthopedic conditions.  The orthopedic conditions are related to exacerbation of any inflammatory condition such as tendonitis, arthritis, neuritis, and myofacitis.  Neuritis presents as conditions like carpal tunnel and thoracic outlet syndrome to name a few, with fluid retention due to inflammation causing nerve compression.  Myofacitis presents as generalized or localized muscle soreness.

 

Treatment for Gluten Intolerance and Celiac Disease.

Unfortunately the only treatment gluten intolerance and Celiac disease is avoidance entirely.  Your body gets triggered into attacking your small intestine lining anytime you consume gluten.  People note that some intestinal symptoms improve within 2 weeks.  In 3 months most of the symptoms disappear but it takes 6 months for your intestinal lining to fully recover and proper digestion to return.  During the process heavy dosing of natural probiotics such as Kefir, live cultured sauerkraut, and Kampuchea tea instead of relying on usually ineffective probiotic supplements will help speed the process.  I also recommend going on the Anti-Inflammatory Diet which can be found in my blogs.

Avoidance must be strict and foods with wheat, barley, rye and other grains.   You can substitute many other carbs such as rice, potatoes, quinoa, and corn.  It is very important to watch ingredients because gluten is added to many products but if you follow the Anti-Inflammatory Diet you will find you no longer eat anything with ingredients other than the 1 ingredient you are preparing such a broccoli, salmon, rice, potatoes, and apples to name a few.  Opening a box of prepared rice or quinoa or using salad kits put you ask risk because who know what ingredients are in it.   Avoiding packaged and processed food is a centerpiece of any good diet plan.  The hardest part is sauces you use as condiments but you can find organic healthy preservative products by reading labels closely.  When you are not sure skip it.