Celiac Disease VS. Gluten Intolerance


Both Celiac Disease and Gluten Intolerance are both very real issues. Cases of both have been on the rise for years and it is important to understand what both are and what they mean, but, does gluten allergy mean celiac disease, and how do you know if you have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity?

What Is Celiac Disease?

Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disorder that damages the small intestine upon the ingestion of gluten. This small intestinal damage cause severe damage to the villi in the intestine, which are responsible for absorbing nutrients. This can cause many serious nutritional deficiencies.

In Canada, it is now estimated the about 1 in 133 people suffer from Celiac Disease. The problem is that most people go undiagnosed. The average length of time it takes to get a celiac diagnosis is about 10 years from the onset of symptoms.

Some common symptoms of celiac are:

  • Nutritional Deficiencies
  • Anemia
  • Depression
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Skin rashes
  • Irritability
  • Infertility/Miscarriages and birth defects
  • Insomnia
  • Cramps and bloating
  • Weight loss

Some cases of celiac develop as a skin condition called dermatitis herpetiformis

There are over 300 different symptoms associated with Celiac Disease, these being the most common. Other diseases can also cause these symptoms, so it is best to get checked out.

How do I get tested for Celiac

The first thing you need to make sure you are doing, is eating gluten! As much as it sucks to have to put yourself through the agony, you could could end up with a false negative just because the antibodies were not present in your body at the time of the test. Within 3-6 months your body will stop producing all antibodies to gluten after non-ingestion and sometimes it can disappear even sooner. The day before I got tested I went to a restaurant and ate bread, fried foods and a few other gluten filled goodies. This was my last “hurrah” I told myself. Although before that I would avoid it at all costs because I knew it made me ill. Yes, I was sick and miserable the next day, but my blood work came back with a 95% celiac diagnosis.

So yes, the first test is a blood test. In Canada, it costs $125. Hopefully one day it will be covered, but as of now this is how it is. They test for 4 different antibodies to the gluten protein and I believe there is also a gene test to see if you carry the gene. The second part is an intestinal biopsy. This is supposed to be confirmation by taking a sample of the intestines. My gastroenterologist told me I didn’t have to get it done though as 95% on a blood test is definitive. I was pretty happy to say the least as I was pretty nervous. But if you have to get it done, I have heard its quick and painless and easy.

There is no known cure for celiac disease. It must be treated by following a gluten free lifestyle permanently. Celiac’s must become aware of everything they ingest as hidden sources of gluten are rampant in society. Most processed foods containing gluten through the use of stabilizers(hydrolyzed vegetable/plant protein-they try to make it sound healthy hah!)and other additives. Luncheon meats and sausages are usually dangerous for this sort of thing. Try to eat a whole foods diet, and if you do eat processed look for gluten free labelling or call the manufacturer.

What is Gluten Intolerance

Gluten Intolerance is a very real condition. Some people may not believe in it’s existence but more and more people report feelings of feeling unwell after the ingestion of gluten. Doctor’s once dismissed this idea but are now recognizing it. The difference between Celiac disease and gluten intolerance, is the damage being done to the small intestine. Those who are gluten intolerant will still feel the symptons after ingestion though. They may have upset stomach, bloating, fatigue, headaches and irritabilty.

There is no known test for gluten sensitivity. The doctor must be able to understand your symptoms when you tell him you don’t feel well when you eat it. This may be difficult for you, as your doctor will probably attribute your symptoms to something else. If you feel you have a gluten sensitivity, cut gluten out of your diet and see if you feel better. Then, do well to avoid it at all costs as eventually it can cause much worst symptoms down the road.

Celiac disease and gluten intolerance are only as hard as you make it. If you come from a standard diet of processed garbage, it may be a bit of a challenge, but a good challenge! Look at this as a blessing in disguise as you will become more food conscious and lead a much healthier lifestlye.

Actually, gluten is the one protein in the human diet that NO ONE can fully break down. So even if you do not have any obvious symptoms or have a disease like celiac, it does not break down properly in your body regardless. A big reason for the huge issues with gluten these days are the processed foods and herbicides currently being used on our crops. GMO crops are the worst and we need to be more conscious of what types of foods we are putting into our bodies. You can read my article about Glyphosate and Celiac for more information. To keep yourself and your family safe, real, whole, unprocessed foods are the way to go!

Sara Kay