Some diseases can really upset your nutritional balance. Celiac disease, a common autoimmune genetic disease, doesn’t just damage the digestive system. Left untreated, celiac causes widespread destruction throughout the body.
For those with this disease, the protein gluten, found in many grains and foods main from those grains, causes an immune reaction, which destroys villi in the small intestine.
Because villi help the body absorb nutrients from food, damage to these small finger-like projections results in impaired absorption of several nutrients, which over time could lead to anemia, osteoporosis and several other issues.
The most common nutrient deficiency in those with untreated celiac disease is iron deficiency anemia. However, absorption of several other nutrients may be compromised as well including folate, vitamins A, B12, D, E and K as well as key minerals calcium and phosphorus.
The only way to prevent issues with nutrient absorption is to treat celiac disease by following a gluten-free diet.A gluten free diet will typically help reverse intestinal damage caused by celiac disease. However, healing of the intestines may take a few years and therefore, nutrient absorption could be compromised during this time. Because only about 5-10% of those living with celiac disease are diagnosed, it is important to be aware of the symptoms and talk to your physician if you think you have celiac disease.
In addition to knowing the symptoms, keep in mind that people with Graves’ Disease, type 1 diabetes, Hashimoto’s Disease or a family history of celiac disease have a greater chance of developing celiac disease.