Supplements for Celiacs

upplements for CeliacsThe diagnosis celiac disease very often means a lack of minerals, vitamins and trace elements, caused by the damages in the small intestines. The deficiencies can be very different from person to person so please: before you take any supplement please consult your doctor etc and get yourself tested if your blood actually shows any deficiencies!

Right after the diagnosis it is rather common to experience a reduced level of iron, folate, vitamin B12, vitamin D, zinc, and magnesium. After going strictly gluten free many of these deficiencies are being filled up again, sometimes they stay longer. It is important to address these deficiencies, as they can lead to further health problems. For example a low level of vitamin D and calcium might cause a low bone mineral density which might result in osteoporosis.

If you buy supplements, please make sure they are gluten free and always consult your doctor before taking them.

L-Glutamine

The first supplement I want to introduce to you might be a surprise – especially if you are in the weight lifting scene you might even have heard about it! It is called glutamine, an amino acid that can help to heal a leaky gut cause by Celiac Disease. The fitness industry sells it for preserving and even building muscle tissue, although this has never been proven in lab results whereas the healing properties for the gut has a scientific basis (for example: http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PII0140-6736(93)90939-E/abstract)

It is crucial to heal a leaky gut and to heal the small intestines as only a proper working system can digest the minerals, vitamins and trace elements, that your body needs. That’s why you have to address this first before starting to buy expensive supplements, because your body couldn’t absorb and use them anyway while the gut is still damaged.

L-glutamine is both available in food as well as a supplement. In food it is both present in animal protein as well as in plant-based protein sources. Here are the foods with the most L-glutamine:

  • Bone Broth (home made!)
  • Grass-fed Beef
  • Spirulina
  • Chinese Cabbage
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli
  • Wild Caught Fish (Cod, Tuna and Salmon)
  • Venison
  • Turkey

Try to include at least three servings of these everyday! If you can’t then it is best to turn to a supplement, the best dosage here is between 2-5g twice a day. There are many L-glutamine supplements available Amazon!.
It dissolves quickly in water and has a neutral taste.

Gelatin

Bone broth as an excellent source of L-glutamine. But bone broth has even more advantages, as it contains another substance that has amazing benefits: gelatin! If you are a vegetarian or vegan then you might want to check for alternatives, but I strongly believe that there is no real substitute for it.

Gelatin is known for improving the lining of the gut and strengthening the digestion, as it enhances the gastric acid secretion and restores the mucosal lining in the stomach. It also absorbs water and helps keep fluid in the digestive tract, promoting good intestinal transit and healthy bowel movements. This helps to heal a leaky and celiac gut.

Besides all these benefits gelatin will also protect your joints, helps building up the skin and even supports a better sleep.

If you are not fan of bone broth then you can always supplement gelatin. If you do, please make sure it is not the cheap stuff from the supermarket, but a high quality one.

Fish Oil

Have you seen fish oil capsules in health stores and wondered what they are good for? Actually they have a ton of benefits for health issues like:

  • heart disease
  • depression
  • high cholesterol
  • arthritis
  • eczema
  • cancer
  • weakened immunity
  • autoimmune disease

Fish oil contains high levels of Omega 3 fatty acids, only to be found in fish. As our modern diet tends to lack of these important fatty acids and our intake of Omega 6 is to high in comparison to Omega 3 you might benefit greatly of supplementing with fish oil.

The best benefits for people with celiac disease is of course the anti-inflammation properties of fish oil as well as the improvement of leaky gut – both important issues to be addressed.

Usually the dose should be 1000 mg per day – based on scientific research. But please choose wisely as fish oil can oxidize quickly and can go rancid. Also keep them in a cool place as they are heat sensitive. Choose a supplement that contains anti-oxidants, i.e. astaxanthin or even essential oils.

Chris Kesser, one of the main Paleo supporters recommends this Extra Virgin Cod Liver Oil. I haven’t tried it, but I trust his knowledge: http://www.corganic.com/evclo/

Vitamin D, Magnesium and Calcium

A vitamin D deficiency is something most of us suffer from, not only we celiacs, but nearly everyone in the industrial nations. Most of us aren’t exposed to the sun long enough and even if we wear highly efficient sunscreen. That’s why everyone really should get their vitamin D levels tested. And please, get tested before you take any supplements!

So why is vitamin D so essential? It is a critical nutrient for bone health and the overall immune system strength. Many celiacs suffer from osteoporosis, a bone disease where the bones become weak and may break from a fall or, in serious cases, even from sneezing or minor bumps.

Deficiency in vitamin D also very often leads to calcium deficiency, because your body needs vitamin D to absorb calcium found in the food. Calcium is equally important for bone health. But – if you supplement vitamin D and calcium then you should also take magnesium as well as vitamin K2, as they all work together.

If you buy supplements, please make sure they are gluten free and always consult your doctor before taking them.

It is also advisable to include foods in your diet that are extremely nutrition dense.

Iron

Iron deficiency is very common in people with undiagnosed or newly diagnosed celiac disease, and especially women (with or without celiac) suffer from it. The deficiency can cause anemia, which is when iron levels are low for a long period of time without relief, which makes red blood cell production ineffective. This disorder causes chronic fatigue and weakness for anyone suffering from it.

But even a not so dramatic iron can wreak havoc on your overall health, leaving you feeling lethargic and tired without an apparent explanation.
If you think you’re low on iron, have your doctor run a simple blood test to find out if you’re anemic. You don’t want to take too much iron – just enough to get your levels back to a normal, healthy state, as too much iron can cause damage to your body, too!

And sorry for repeating myself, but please: If you buy supplements, please make sure they are gluten free and always consult your doctor before taking them.

Conclusion

Of course there are many more and it is important to get your blood levels checked for any deficiencies you might have developed due to the damage in your small intestines.

  • Here are some general tips you should follow when you are buying supplements.
  • Always make sure they are gluten free, and if in doubt contact the company.
  • Please don’t overdose minerals and vitamins as this can be harmful, too!
  • Avoid supplements that are mega or high doses.
  • Avoid supplements full of unwanted additives like shellac, gums, talk, silicon. The more natural the better!

Open letter for anyone inviting a celiac to dinner

Open letter for anyone inviting a celiac to dinnerHi and welcome on my blog!

If you are reading this most probably a friend or relative sent you the link to it so we can have a chat about celiac disease. Please let me introduce myself. I am a food coach and have been on both sides of celiac disease. First my mom got it and I tried to understand all her strange behaviors – or at least I thought they were strange until a few years ago I got the diagnosis, too. That’s why it is important to me to help people coping with celiac disease as well as helping to understand it if you don’t have it – lucky you by the way!

So, if you have invited someone with celiac disease to a dinner before, especially to Thanksgiving or any other big event, you might have encountered various reactions from that someone. Very often they bring their own food or eat before they come over or even don’t want to come at all. I know all this seems horribly rude! Why on earth would your child, sister, friend or whoever not eat the delicious food you made a great effort to cook? Just alone shopping for the ingredients was a nightmare and you cooked it with all your heart – and now that person rejects it? I know from first hand experience that this is really hurtful. It feels like they are rejecting you, as if they don’t like you anymore and don’t appreciate all the hard work and love you put into that meal.

Let me get one thing clear: your friend or family member still loves you. Really! He or she does! And he or she would love nothing more to eat that delicious smelling turkey and the stuffing, to taste the wonderful gravy and to indulge into the marvelous cake you baked. They wish they could have just a tiny bite of the wonderful fresh bread and take a sip of the beer you are offering them.

But they can’t, we can’t! And it is breaking our hearts. That’s why people with celiac disease sometimes won’t accept the invitation. We don’t want to break your heart and don’t want to get our hearts broken.

So why are we with celiac disease behaving seemingly rude? Simply because we are fighting for our health. I know it sounds incredibly silly when we say that only a tiny crumb will make us sick – this sounds like completely mad. Unfortunately it isn’t. It is the reality we with celiac disease live with, day in day out. One tiny crumb will destroy our small intestines with horrible consequences. Many of us simply get sick, some with bloating, some with diarrhea, some with vomiting. But that’s not all! Every time we eat gluten – even a tiny bit – our small intestine won’t be able to to its job! We can’t digest minerals, vitamins and trace elements for some time, we feel like having the flu, some get mood swings, get depressive or have sleeping problems. All this because of a crumb. And as if that wasn’t bad enough if we eat gluten more often the chances of developing bowel cancer rise signifikant.

There are some people with celiac disease who strangely don’t show any reactions at all. But science and medicine has shown that the damage of the small intestine does happen, too! They just don’t feel it, but the consequences are the same.

And that’s why we won’t eat anything from your wonderful meal. We would love to, but that would mean damaging our bodies in a way we can’t risk. Imagine someone would offer you rat poison – you wouldn’t eat it either… (Of course your fantastic meal is no rat poison!)

One last word about cooking gluten free: we really do appreciate if you offer to cook a gluten free version of the meal. But it is really difficult to avoid contamination in the kitchen, as you need to keep everything separated and can’t use your hand mixer, your plastic bowls, your wooden spoons etc. That’s why people with celiac disease often don’t accept that offer – it is simply too risky. And we don’t think your kitchen is dirty or anything like that. We just know how difficult it is to make the kitchen celiac safe.

We still love to get invited to your dinners but please don’t mind us bringing our own food. We are used to that and will still enjoy your company and the atmosphere. And if you have a cool bottle of certified gluten free beer or gluten free cookies then we are over the moon!


7 reasons, why a proper diagnosis of celiac disease is so important

7 reasons, why a proper diagnosis of celiac disease is so importantAgain and again I hear from clients, friends and family „Why should I go and see a doctor when I feel so much better on a gluten free diet?“ That’s why I wrote this blog post to share why it is so tremendously important to get a proper diagnosis of celiac disease – or to rule it out. Of course a intestinal biopsy is nothing one wants to start the day with… But there are things far worse – and they could happen if you have celiac and don’t follow the diet strictly.
So here is why you should get it done:

1) Celiac disease means phobia of crumbs
If you have celiac disease you have to beware every gluten containing crumb. 1/8 of a teaspoon of normal wheat flour is already enough to damage the villi in your small intestine if you suffer from celiac – and for most of us even far less! This damage can lead to severe consequences: vitamin and mineral deficiencies, osteoporosis and bowel cancer are all possible outcomes.
If you are „only“ gluten intolerant – very much like being lactose intolerant – then very often you can still digest a bit of gluten – sometimes even a whole slice of pizza. You might get sick, but even then your small intestine won’t get damaged.
But if you really have celiac disease it doesn’t matter if you don’t feel sick after a sip of beer or a bite from the pizza. Your small intestine will be damaged and the auto immune reaction triggered. That’s why it is so important to be aware of crumbs!

2) Celiac disease is not a fad
Everyone with celiac knows this of course. But there are restaurants, hotel, airlines and even hospitals that will only shake their heads if you ask for gluten free food – or answer in a snippy way that you are not a Hollywood star (how I hate that!). That’s why you should have a letter from your doctor with the diagnosis with you – well, more likely when you see a new doctor or need to go to the hospital, but there is even a cafe in Dublin that will ask for it (which we shouldn’t visit anyway, as the owner only wanted to get some press articles and there are many more wonderful options in Dublin).

3) For the love of flying
As I just mentioned airlines: most airlines in the world will provide you with gluten free food – without asking for any paper. But many airlines will also let you take an extra piece of luggage for your gluten free food! Normally you can just ask for it when booking the flight but you are on the safe side when you can show a letter with the diagnosis at check in. Imagine being at the airport and having to leave your food behind – oh the horrors.

4) Following Checks Ups
With celiac disease it is important and essential to get your blood tested once a year to check if the gluten free diet is really working. There might be several reasons for the values not going down, and they have to be traced down, as this could be due to cross-contamination, mistakes or complications.

5) Other diseases as complications
Celiac disease is genetically close to type 1 diabetes mellitus and autoimmune disorders like Hashimoto thyreoiditis or Grave’s disease. If you have gotten a proper celiac diagnosis you should get checked up for these diseases, too. It is also important to check your blood for a deficiency of vitamin d and iron. You should also get checked for osteoporosis! I don’t want to alarm you but my doctor found osteoporosis right after my diagnosis. I changed my nutrition completely and now two years later nothing can be seen of it in my bones.

6) Governmental Support 

Depending on the country you live in it is quite possible that you get governmental support in one or the other way. Ask the health services in your country about this!

7) Making the diagnosis easier
When you change to gluten free food – especially if you are really strict – celiac disease will be unverifiable after some time. The small intestine will recover and the levels of antibodies will go down until they are not traceable anymore. So if you still want a diagnosis but you are already eating gluten free you need to eat gluten for several weeks till up to three months (depending on the doctor). I have seen people suffering badly at this time and some even discontinued this procedure, because they became too ill.

So please, if you suspect that gluten is your culprit, go and see your doctor or a gastroenterologist and get checked for celiac before switching to a gluten free diet!