The Celiac Uprise

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What is Celiac Disease?

Celiac symptoms can include fatigue, abdominal pain, distension, diarrhea, nausea, and flatulence brought on by maldigestion of gluten - a protein present in barley, wheat and rye. Celiac differs from a typical food allergy which is an overreaction of the immune response, that can be modified through lifestyle changes. In those with Celiac’s disease, the two main immune pathways are activated--both the adaptive and innate pathways. Antibodies to gluten are formed in two different ways, through two different pathways! Because antibodies are attacking our body’s own proteins, not just gluten, Celiac disease is considered an autoimmune condition. Even tiny amounts of gluten can trigger the reaction and lead to inflammation and eventually atrophy of the gut lining. Celiac disease has become easier to diagnose, hence the surge in the number of cases, and we can now detect gluten sensitivity earlier. Conventionally, the disease is diagnosed via biopsy of the small intestines, and through specific labs. Blood work includes genotyping, as well as testing for tissue transglutaminase antibodies, immunoglobulin A and anti-gliadin antibodies and a biopsy is recommended to quantify the stage according to a “Marsh Score” from 0 to 4 (0 representing normalcy and 4 representing total atrophy).

What is the concern?

A recent study in 2015 by Gastroenterologist Edwin Liu kept track of 1,339 babies at risk for Celiac disease. Liu was surprised to see that by age 15, over 3 percent of the children in the study had shown evidence of the disease. This is surprising compared to much lower numbers previously recorded in the US- about 1% or less! This surge has to do with not only improvement in our diagnostic tools, but also an increase in those with the disease. Liu states that “over 40 percent of people [in general] have the genes predisposing them to Celiac’s disease. The big question is why some people get it and others don’t.” (Offord 2017, In integrative medicine, we understand and test for the upstream factors that can cause gluten sensitivity and even full blown Celiac disease, including pre-disposing conditions such as intestinal inflammation, dysbiosis (microbial imbalance), lifetsyle factors including stress, insufficient sleep, lack of social connection, and others. To hear more about an integrative approach to gut health, please attend our next talk, or listen to the recording!

What’s next?

Visit a functional or integrative medicine provider to find out how to reduce your risk of autoimmune illnesses including Celiac disease. Common autoimmune conditions include hypothyroidism, certain forms of diabetes, and some causes of infertility.

Not only Celiac patients struggle with gluten, there are thousands of people that report symptoms of intolerance. Join us on 11/15 for Heal Your Gut - A Gluten Free, Dairy Free Primer Holiday Edition! Tickets can be purchased for $45 online and spots are limited to ensure individual attention! Currently, the only treatment for Celiac or a gluten intolerance is a gluten free diet, but your PIM provider can help you prevent, or, recover and heal your digestion and absorption if you’ve been diagnosed. A gluten free diet can be difficult to maintain. Even trace amounts of gluten can trigger a reaction if ingested by accident. At PIM, we offer a supplement called Gluten/Dairy Digest that will actually break down small amount of Gluten that is ingested and protect your gut. Those with Celiac’s cannot undo the development of the disease, but can take steps to heal the damage to their gut. At PIM we prioritize the health of the gut and offer support to current patients by managing a gluten free diet with our team of Integrative Providers, including support from our PIM Nutritionist, Rachel Hershberger.

Interested in connecting with PIM? Register for our upcoming group class at Cabrini College: November 28th - Your Gut Health: Healing Leaky Gut and SIBO with Lauren Houser, CRNP. Admission is FREE!

If you or your loved one has ongoing stress, mood or hormone imbalance, or they are suffering from a chronic illness, please consider scheduling a 20 minute free consultation or an appointment with Lauren Houser, MS, MSN, CRNP or Annmarie McManus, MMSc, PA-C, PT, IFMCP

Adapted from

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