Harnaaz Sandhu, Miss Universe 2022, came out clean about her struggle with body image as a result of celiac disease. She expressed how she was bullied as a child for being too skinny, while as an adult, she is bullied for being perceived as fat.
Let’s learn more and #BeALittleMore about being sensitive towards those with the medical condition and know about it.
What Is Celiac Disease?
Celiac disease, also referred to as gluten-sensitive enteropathy or celiac sprue, is an autoimmune condition in which the body’s immune system attacks its own small intestine on consumption of gluten-rich foods. Eating gluten triggers an immune reaction in the body’s small intestine. In due course of time, this results in damage to the lining of the small intestine. Leading to malabsorption or the body’s inability to absorb vital nutrients. Intestinal damage can become the root cause for various other medical conditions, which has been discussed next. Celiac disease has no cure yet, the only treatment being keeping a strict watch on the diet to ensure intestinal healing.
Symptoms Of Celiac Disease
- Diarrhoea – This is usually one of the first symptoms of the medical condition before being diagnosed with it. However, it can be kept under control by following a strictly gluten-free diet.
- Constipation – While the medical condition causes diarrhoea in some, it may lead to constipation among some others. As mentioned previously, the disease affects the intestinal lining, causing malabsorption of nutrients. During this time, the intestine may end up absorbing more moisture from the stool, causing hardened stool or constipation.
- Bloating – The medical condition may cause inflammation in the digestive tract, resulting in bloating and other digestive disorders.
- Flatulence – Gas is a natural side-effect of gluten consumption. Flatulence gets aggravated among individuals with undiagnosed celiac disease.
- Fatigue – As a result of small intestinal damage due to celiac disease, vitamin and mineral deficiencies occur, which causes fatigue. Additionally, the medical condition may cause sleep disorders, resulting in fatigue.
- Weight loss – The lack of nutritional absorption may lead to weight loss and malnutrition. Weight loss is yet another early sign of celiac disease.
- Iron deficiency anaemia – Symptoms like fatigue, headaches, weakness, dizziness, chest pain, etc. may indicate iron deficiency anaemia, caused as a symptom of celiac disease. The impairment of nutritional absorption may adversely affect the production of healthy red blood cells, causing anaemia.
- Rashes – Itchy skin rashes may develop on the elbows, knees, and buttocks due to celiac disease. This may indicate skin disorders like eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis herpetiformis, hives, and dermatitis.
- Depression – Not just physical symptoms, celiac disease is often closely associated with psychological symptoms as well like anxiety, depression, and eating disorders. It generally arises due to the unhealthy relationship with food as a result of not being able to eat gluten-rich foods.
Causes And Risk Factors Of Celiac Disease
- When an individual with celiac disease consumes gluten, it causes their immune system to attack the body’s small intestine, causing damages over the long run. To be more specific, finger-like projections called villi, lining the small intestine, become unable to absorb essential nutrients. This leads to various signs and symptoms of the medical condition.
- Genetic history of celiac disease or other medical conditions like type 1 diabetes, down syndrome, and turner syndrome can increase the chances of developing this medical condition
- The health condition is more common among females than males
- It can be triggered by stressful situations like surgery, viral infections, pregnancy, or emotional trauma
Dietary Recommendations For Celiac Disease
Foods To Avoid
Below are the gluten-rich foods that must be avoided at all costs to keep celiac disease under control:
- Cakes and pastries
- Sauces and gravies
- Wheat bran
- Wheat germ
- Wheat berries
- Processed foods (may contain modified food starch and malt flavouring)
Non-food items like lipstick and certain medicines can contain gluten as well. Cross–contamination may occur when gluten-rich and gluten-free foods are served or cooked in the same utensil.
Foods To Include In A Gluten-Free Diet
Here are the foods that can be included in the diet:
- Gluten-free cereals like corn, quinoa, millet, rice, potato flour, soy, rice noodles,
- Animal proteins like dairy products, milk, eggs, chicken, mutton, fish, seafood
- Oils and other fats like coconut oil, olive oil, solid fats, butter
- All fruits and vegetables in fresh, dried, frozen, and canned forms
- Legumes like peas, beans, peanuts, lentils, soy
- Seeds and nuts like cashews, walnuts, almonds, cia, pecans, flax, pine nuts
- All fresh and dried herbs
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