Living with Celiac Disease- -The Challenge of Staying Free of Gluten
What is it like living with celiac disease? The challenge of
beginning such a big lifestyle change, and staying free of
gluten is a big one. The learning curve is steep, and
hidden gluten is in many foods. Don't worry if you make a
mistake. It will set back your healing by a few weeks, but you
will still heal. It happens to all of us.
When you first go on the diet, you are most likely
dealing with a sore and irritated intestine. You may have
some vitamin and mineral deficiencies already. Your stomach
could be sore and touchy as well. Your intestines are probably
not absorbing nutrients well at all. So you have to be careful
what you eat for at least the first 3-6 months.
I take a good natural
daily. I think it is
very important to do so since I already had vitamin
deficiencies and most gluten free products are not vitamin
fortified like the gluten products are.
For example, B12 is digested and absorbed in the last part of
the small intestine. When the area is damaged, the intestine
can only absorb a tiny amount of the B12 you need. Unless you
are getting B12 shots from the doctor, a sublingual (under the
tongue) B12 vitamin could be important to prevent anemia. The
methylcobalamin form is the one I use, as it is more effective.
If you have intestinal damage, it is likely you cannot digest
milk products. So it makes sense to go dairy free as well for
the first few months, to give your intestines time to heal.
Once they have had time to heal enough to have the tips of the
villi back, your body can produce lactase again, which will
allow you to digest the lactose (milk sugar).
In the meantime, there are substitutes like rice milk, soy
milk, Vance's Dari Free (potato based), almond milk and others
available. They can be used with gluten free cereal, or in most
recipes. Soy versions of cream cheese and hard cheese, or
rice cheese products can be used in recipes as well.
Many gluten sensitive people have found that milk gives them
problems even once the intestine is healed. The protein in
milk, which is called casein, can also cause an immune reaction.
If you are intolerant of casein, you will find your
digestion getting uncomfortable again. Once you have an immune
reaction, the casein will be something to avoid, like gluten.
Unless you have an antibody test for casein, you probably won't
know if you can tolerate it until you have healed enough to
digest lactose. So after you feel that the villi have healed,
you can do a trial of milk products for a few days, and see if
you can tolerate it. If you are uncomfortable, you might want
to wait a few months and try again.
One option is to get tested for casein by Entero Lab. Another
option after you've healed a bit is to try Lactaid. If you
are just missing the lactase from the tips of the villi, you
may be fine with dairy products as long as you use the Lactaid.
If you try this and you are uncomfortable, or you start bloating
again, then wait a few months. Give it one more try, and if
you still react badly, even with Lactaid, then try avoiding
casein and see if you feel better.
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