Many of us will change our diets because we want to be healthier and do our part for a healthy future. Others often find that they must change to protect their body from harm. One of the most common causes of a change like that is finding out that you have celiac disease. Celiac is an underdiagnosed but severe health condition. It requires you to make essential changes to your diet and lifestyle. Use National Celiac Disease Awareness Day to learn the difference between celiac testing and advanced testing and understand how to protect your body if needed.
What is celiac disease?
Celiac is a genetic disease in which the body reacts poorly to gluten. Celiac is essential to diagnose properly. Eating gluten can cause damage to your small intestine without most people even knowing it.
Celiac symptoms are easy to track when you know what to look for, but they can also easily be confused with gluten intolerance. This is part of why advanced testing is such a logical first step. Its results can either confirm your gluten intolerance or rule it out. With this done, you can approach your GP to know the next step for celiac testing. Gluten intolerance is very different from Celiac, so it’s important not to assume one or the other without test results to confirm it.
Another important thing to remember is that celiac disease, if undiagnosed, can lead to health complications in the future. Those with celiac are more at risk for certain types of cancer, autoimmune disorders, and osteoporosis.
What are celiac disease symptoms?
With an understanding of why celiac diagnosis is so important, it’s time to turn to recognizing the symptoms of celiac disease. There are quite a few ways in which this disease can present.
Stomach and digestive issues
Many people with celiac report bloating and stomach pain that comes back each time they eat something containing gluten. Celiac sufferers also have gas, chronic diarrhea, or constipation. Many also report weight loss not explained by other conditions. This can be linked to missed menstrual periods and even infertility. Another common symptom is having especially bad-smelling stool that is noticeably pale in color.
Celiac can also be felt in the body other than the stomach and digestive tract. Many report painful joints, muscle cramps, and bone pain. Some also feel a tingling or numb feeling in their legs, too, which is often very alarming.
Also, bones are more prone to breaking, which can result in an early diagnosis of osteoporosis. Many also report a loss of teeth enamel, like bone density loss.
Anemia is a common symptom explained by celiac. Lastly, especially painful and itchy skin rashes are common after eating gluten-containing foods.
With so many symptoms to guide you, Celiac should be simple enough to diagnose. Yet, many assume these symptoms are a.) unrelated to each other and b.) connected to something from their daily life, such as food intolerances, a rigid workout routine, and more.
How to live a gluten-free life
For your safety, living a gluten-free life is the way forward for those living with celiac disease. But the first step is to make sure that you are, in fact, dealing with celiac. Celiac has a poor diagnosis rate because many assume food intolerances or general life, as mentioned. The actual test for celiac disease is a blood test that detects the level of antibodies in your blood — the more you have, the more likely it is that you have celiac.
If you aren’t ready to go to your GP just yet, you can also order at-home advanced testing, which will check to see if you are gluten intolerant instead. Regardless of whether it is gluten intolerance or celiac disease, the result will be the same: living a gluten-free lifestyle. Here are some tips.
Do some research
There are a lot of resources out there available for those who are gluten-free. From blogs to literal cookbooks to YouTube channels, the sky is the limit! Use whatever you can to expand your education on your Celiac diet.
Talk to a licensed dietician or nutritional expert
Talking to an expert in dietary needs or nutrition is also a good idea. There is a lot to know and understand about the body’s needs and how to complete those needs when avoiding the (long) list of gluten-containing foods. They can help create a balanced yet diverse meal plan to keep you gluten-free long-term.
Get used to making your own “non-gluten” products
Many who are gluten intolerant or living gluten-free will find that they simply “DIY” it when it comes to bread, bookies, and anything else they miss but can’t have or find. It also is a fun way to get more involved in producing your food and trying new ingredient substitutions.
Whether you are curious about celiac disease for general knowledge or because someone you love is dealing with it, National Celiac Disease Awareness Day is the perfect day to learn more about this surprisingly common disease and how to live your life with as few missed opportunities as possible! grab your allergy and intolerance test to discover more about your body!