Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease characterized by intolerance to dietary gluten. The ingestion of gluten leads to an inflammatory response in the small intestine, which leads to damage to the villi. Villi are finger-like structures in the intestines that come in contact with nutrients for absorption into the body.
The diagnosis of celiac disease is usually done by first screening for IgA antiendomysial antibodies and IgA antitissue transglutaminase antibodies (anti-tTG) in the blood. When positive, this may be followed by a small-intestine biopsy.
Symptoms of celiac disease include frequent bowel movements with fatty stools. Weight loss from malabsorption of food, fatigue, and anemia may also occur. Silent celiac disease is another manifestation in which symptoms are minimal. Early diagnosis can help prevent problems of malabsorption, such as anemia and osteoporosis.
The incidence of celiac disease is greatly increased in people with autoimmune thyroid disease. Various studies show between 2–5 percent of people with these types of thyroid disorders also are afflicted with celiac disease. Reasoning for this is thought to be similar gene encoding. Patients with autoimmune thyroid disease might consider asking their doctor to screen for celiac disease if this has not been done.
Individuals diagnosed with celiac disease with coexisting Hashimoto's disease should consider asking their physician about the proper dose of thyroid medication when starting the gluten-free diet. As the intestines heal, they may need their medication for hypothyroidism decreased due to better absorption. It is wise to monitor thyroid function at this time to avoid a swing from hypothyroidism to hyperthyroidism.
The gluten-free diet in patients with celiac disease may increase absorption of vitamins and minerals as well as calories. It is not unusual to gain weight as the villi heal. Sometimes weight gain is desirable and sometimes not. If it is not, it is advisable to ask your medical team to see a registered dietitian to develop an individualized meal plan. This meal plan needs to include ways to eat a healthy diet and eliminate gluten.
Wheat, barley, and rye contain gluten. Unfortunately, there is a great deal of hidden gluten in many foods such as soy sauce, gravies, commercial broth, and processed foods, so this requires some care.
Most recipes in this book have suggestions on eliminating gluten if the recipe is not gluten free. Be sure to check all ingredients used to make sure they are gluten free. Many big food manufacturers will provide a list of gluten-free products they sell.
One company that will provide a list of their gluten-free products is Perdue Farms Incorporated. This way, you can know if the broth in their specific uncooked and cooked poultry products contains wheat or is gluten free. Call Purdue Farms Incorporated at 1-800-473-7383 to get a copy of this list.
Be aware that even in some foods that do not list any gluten-containing components, food processing equipment may have previously been used for processing wheat, barley, or rye. This is commonly the case for many foods, such as nuts, which alone are gluten free but become cross contaminated when run through the mill.
Oats are another concern. If planted in a field that a gluten-containing food has recently been grown in, a bit of that grain may be in the field with the oats. Therefore, it is necessary to buy gluten-free oats.