You’ve stopped eating gluten; what now?
Did you know that it can take up to 2 years for the damaged coeliac gut to return to normal after giving up gluten?
What can we do about this?
What is Coeliac Disease?
Coeliac disease is a condition in which the body has an inflammatory response to consumption of gluten-containing food such as wheat bread or pasta; barley, rye and oats.
Symptoms that may occur include diarrhoea, stomach pain, blood/black bits in the stool. Sometimes, though, some people can have no symptoms at all and then be diagnosed as coeliac much later in life due to other issues such as nutrient deficiency that are a result of long-term gut damage.
What are the effects of Coeliac disease?
After you have been diagnosed as Coeliac, your doctor will advise you to stop eating gluten. This is a key part of treatment – without strictly removing gluten from your diet, your gut simply cannot heal.
This is because there will always be inflammation in your digestive system that repeatedly causes damage to your gut lining.
This damage to your gut lining can cause all kinds of other issues for your general health because it reduces your ability to absorb nutrients. This can manifest as:
- Iron deficiency anaemia
- B12 deficiency anaemia
- Poor cognitive function
- Failure to thrive in children
- Muscle wasting/general weakness
- Recurrent illness
- Dermatitis/eczema (typically on elbows, knees, back and buttocks)
- Increased liver enzymes (otherwise unexplained)
Giving up gluten is the first step, but what do you do about all the damage that has already happened?
Remember, it takes up to 2 years for the cells in your damaged gut lining to return to normal.
It’s not just about what you take out of your diet
It’s about what you can put in! Every time you eat, it’s an opportunity to heal your gut and reduce the damage that’s been done by gluten.
My favourite diet changes include:
- Eat anti-inflammatory food such as turmeric, ginger, and omega-3 fats.
- Eat 40+ colours per week to supercharge your intestinal flora
- Include plant-based protein sources such as lentils and beans. These contain prebiotics to further support your gut flora and reduce inflammation.
What a naturopath can do to help
Sometimes, you need to bring out some bigger guns than diet and lifestyle to make the difference; particularly at the beginning of your healing journey from gluten damage.
Nutritional supplementation, targeted probiotic prescription, and herbal medicine are total superheroes for your gut.
Don’t wait two years to feel normal again!
With the professional guidance of a naturopath, you can hit gluten damage where it hurts.