Gluten Sensitivity vs. Celiac Disease

As a continuation on the Gluten Free Series it is important to understand the difference between Celiac Disease and Gluten sensitivity.

Let’s start with Celiac Disease and what it is. The exact cause of celiac disease is unknown. The lining of the intestines contains areas called villi, which help absorb nutrients. When people with celiac disease eat foods or use products that contain gluten, their immune system reacts by damaging these villi.

This damage affects the ability to absorb nutrients properly. A person becomes malnourished,  no matter how much food he or she eats.

The disease can develop at any point in life, from infancy to late adulthood.

The symptoms are varied and non that specific from what I can tell. Here are some; bloating, anemia, chronic diarrhea, weight loss, fatigue, cramps/bloating, irritability, dermatitis herpetiformis – intense burning and itching rash

Diagnosis is done through a blood test, but definitive diagnosis can be made only by a small bowel biopsy – by someone n the gastrointestinal field.

Here are some links that provide more detailed information:

Celiac Disease Links 

Canadian Celiac Association – this one has the most information

Health Canada

National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse

Gluten Sensitivity is not the same as Celiac – in that the removal of Gluten from the diet is not permanent. Also with Celiac the smallest amounts of wheat/gluten ingestion can cause a reaction. Gluten Sensitivity can present the same symptoms though, such as bloating, indigestion, headaches/migraines, muscular disturbances, joint pain and other symptoms.

According to the Canadian Celiac Association there is no definitive test available to diagnose this – but if one notices changes after removing Gluten – then one can assume that there is a sensitivity. You can also ask your Dr. or Naturopath if there are any tests that might indicate an intolerance.

It is thought that 15% of the population or 1 in 7 have gluten intolerance.

Gluten Insensitivity/Intolerance Links

Gluten Free Network

Gluten Intolerance .ca

Gluten Intolerance Group

My opinion on why Gluten/Wheat sensitivity is here:

  • Okay so for my own interpretation and please take it as this, I think Gluten Intolerance makes sense for me. It is pretty easy to figure out if you have an intolerance or not – just remove gluten from your diet for about 6 months. This means no wheat products at all and then see what happens.
  • I asked my GP who is also a Gastroentinologist – why does Gluten cause these problems. He said that currently Gluten is the buzz word, but in fact, we as a species shouldn’t be eating wheat. It is a processed food that biologically we aren’t supposed to ingest. Like milk, we are technically supposed to only drink breast milk and then we are weaned. No more milk. Yet, we do.
  • We consume too many carbs. Look at the size of muffins at Costco – you could feed a family of 2 on one of those suckers. They are just too prevalent in our diet.
  • We eat too many processed foods. Especially in a bad economy a box of mac and cheese is affordable, filling and easy. It is harder and more expensive to create a menu with meat/fish/chicken and vegetables than a processed dinner.
  • Genetically modified crops. In order for farmers to survive they need to produce crops. These crops have been genetically modified to produce more, be disease resistant and stand up against the elements. How can all this tampering with nature be good for us?

Again, that is just my own opinion. From some of the folks I have talked to who have either removed or dramatically reduced gluten have felt a lot better.

Here is what it has done for me in 9 months

  • my body temperature is regulated – I am not steaming hot all the time
  • I don’t look pregnant, fat or bloated anymore – I look more like myself
  • improved energy
  • I have my period back – although not having it was one of the only benefits of being sick
  • my face isn’t red anymore
  • I don’t have the sweats
  • I am beginning to sleep a little better
  • I have more energy

While these improvements are probably a combination of all my efforts, losing the bloat has been the best thing.

I will continue this series with more info in the following weeks.


3 thoughts on “Gluten Sensitivity vs. Celiac Disease

  1. Congratulations on all the physical changes (for the better) removing gluten from your diet has done! Those are quite the achievements, and all within a 9-month period!
    I hope your health improvements continue. Having food allergies, I’m aware of food sensitivies as well. Wheat/gluten is high on the list of both allegery and sensitivity foods.
    Wishing you continued success, through diet and other alternative methods, in becoming more like your former self again!

    1. Thank you Phylor, I am sorry that I have been behind in doing my reading. It seems that pain flares when sitting at the computer. I think I need the program you got.

      I hope you are feeling better and I am going to get reading your blog.

      All the best, K

  2. Congratulations on all the improvements you’ve seen since eliminating gluten from your diet! Gluten is a problem for about half of my clients with chronic arthritis pain. For them, gluten triggers inflammation and fatigue. Although gluten wasn’t an underlying sensitivity for my own arthritis, wheat was. It wasn’t until I eliminated all of my sensitivities that I was able to heal my arthritis.

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