Can Ayurveda help with Celiac Disease treatment? Do I have to stay gluten free for the rest of life? How to follow a gluten free diet for celiac disease?
These are some of the common questions that we come across from people with celiac disease.
It is an autoimmune disorder that affects the small intestine. When someone with Celiac Disease consumes gluten (a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye), their immune system responds by attacking the small intestine. This can cause a wide range of symptoms, such as diarrhea, abdominal pain, and bloating.
In this blog post, we will discuss some of the best Ayurvedic natural remedies for Celiac Disease. You will also know lifestyle and healthy diet principles to treat celiac disease.
What is Celiac Disease?
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease of the digestive system. In celiac disease, a person’s digestive system becomes extremely sensitive to foods that contain gluten. It is also known as celiac sprue, gluten sensitivity, wheat intolerance or gluten-sensitive enteropathy.
Gluten is a form of protein that is found in grains such as wheat, barley and rye. It gives the elasticity to dough. Eating gluten leads to an immune reaction in Celiac disease.
It is a lifelong condition that can be managed with a strict gluten free diet. This diet requires avoiding all foods that contain gluten. There are many gluten free foods that can help you manage celiac disease and prevent flare up of celiac disease symptoms.
What happens when a Coeliac Disease patient eats gluten?
In Celiac disease, the white blood cells of the immune system attack and damage the intestinal villi upon gluten consumption. Over the time, this continuous attack changes the structure of small intestinal villi and leads to permanent intestinal damage.
Since, intestinal villi are responsible for fending off harmful bacteria as well as for digestion of the nutrients from the food; both immune system and digestion are impaired in celiac disease.
In the initial stages, a person may or may not have any symptoms of celiac disease or the symptoms maybe limited to digestive discomforts.
However, over time celiac disease can lead to serious medical conditions and malnutrition, as the body cannot absorb nutrients from food properly.
What Causes Gluten Intolerance?
The exact mechanism of how Coeliac Disease occurs is not fully understood. However, it is thought to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
Some researchers believe that Celiac Disease is triggered by an infection or other environmental factor in people who are genetically predisposed to the condition.
Celiac disease is diagnosed with a blood test and a biopsy of the small intestine. The blood test looks for antibodies that are produced when the body reacts to gluten. The biopsy is used to confirm the diagnosis.
Risk Factors of Celiac Disease
Celiac disease is more common in young kids. It can also go undetected for long till a person reaches adulthood.
- Family history of celiac disease or dermatitis herpetiformis
- Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus
- Down syndrome
- Turner syndrome
- Addison’s disease
- Lymphocytic or collagenous colitis
- Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis (Autoimmune Thyroid Disorder)
Celiac Disease Symptoms
The symptoms of Celiac Disease can vary from person to person. Some people with Celiac Disease may not have any symptoms at all. Others may experience a wide range of symptoms as listed below.
In addition, the symptoms of celiac disease vary in adults and kids. Children usually show digestion problems, pain, delayed puberty and stunted growth
- Abdominal Pain, Constipation
- Gas, Bloating, Flatulence
- Chronic Diarrhea or Loose Stools
- Nausea and Vomiting
- Pale, Foul Smelling Fatty Stool that floats
- Heartburn, Ulcers in mouth
- Rough Brown Hair, Dry and Itchy Skin
- Irritability, Fatigue
- Depression, Anxiety
- Seizures, Headaches
- Weak bones, Bone loss and Osteoporosis
- Joint Pains, Arthritis
- Tingling and Numbness in hands & Feet
- Weight loss
- Iron Deficiency Anemia
- Vitamin D, B12 Deficiency
Health Complications of Celiac Disease
Celiac disease is a serious condition that can lead to malnutrition, as the body cannot absorb nutrients from food properly. In children, this disease can lead to stunted growth and short stature as an adults.
Nutritional deficiency due to malabsorption in Celiac Disease can also lead to a number of health complications, such as:
- Low iron symptoms, Iron deficiency anemia
- Bone loss, frequent fractures and Osteoporosis
- Fertility problems in women such as miscarriages, difficulty in conceiving, infertility
- Liver damage and kidney diseases
- Nervous system problems related to seizures, Schizophrenia, ADHD and memory problems
- Autoimmune disorders
- Food allergies and sensitivity to multiple foods such as dairy, nuts and oxalates
- Malignant growths and development of intestinal or pancreatic cancer
Ayurvedic view of Celiac disease
Celiac disease is classified as Grahani in Ayurveda. This is because an abnormality in the human body’s Agni (digestive power) was considered to have caused it. In this case, Grahani is the container, whereas Agni is the contents.
If either of them are disturbed, the other will be affected as well. The villi are strong and healthy when Agni is powerful. They have perfect coordination and can execute all phases of digestion, absorption, and assimilation with ease.
When the digestive fire is out of balance, it can cause a build-up of toxins in the body (ama). This build-up of toxins can lead to a wide range of symptoms, including gastrointestinal problems, fatigue, and weight loss.
Ayurvedic herbal medicines can be used to get relief from the various celiac disease symptoms in a natural manner.
Ayurvedic Treatment for Celiac disease
The goal of Ayurvedic treatment is to restore the balance of the digestive fire (agni). Detoxification of the body also aids in the removal of ama from the digestive tract. In addition, Ayurvedic medicines are used to restore the villi of the intestines and balance the immune system.
When people with celiac disease begin Ayurvedic treatment, they must follow a strict gluten free diet. Eventually with intestinal healing you may be able to take foods with gluten.
Steps involved in Ayurvedic Treatment for Celiac Disease:
- Detoxification to remove intestinal inflammation
- Balancing the digestive fire and Healing the intestinal lining
- Supporting normal immune response
- Rejuvenation and strength building through balanced nutrition
Ayurvedic Herbal Medicines to Treat Celiac Disease
Ayurvedic medicines are effective to treat gluten intolerance and common symptoms of celiac disease. These are herbal supplements that strengthen the response of the immune system, promote digestion and absorption of the nutrients.
Ayurvedic medicines to treat celiac disease should be followed along with gluten free diet.
- Wood Apple
- Trikatu (a mixture of black pepper, long pepper, and ginger)
Ayurvedic Diet for Celiac Disease
In addition to taking herbs, it is important to make dietary changes. As mentioned earlier, you should look at following a gluten free diet to avoid the triggers of celiac symptoms.
Ayurvedic diet for celiac disease is based on igniting the digestive fire and reduction in inflammation through freshly prepared easy to digest meals. Here are the guidelines for a well balanced diet for treatment of celiac symptoms:
- Foods rich in Iron, Magnesium and Calcium: Avocado, spinach, figs, dark chocolate, chard, almonds, and pumpkin seeds
- Antioxidant rich foods such as berries, fresh vegetables, nuts and seeds
- Probiotics to support gut flora: Fermented foods, curd and naturally cultured food products
- Foods rich in Selenium and Zinc to support immune function: Nuts, Beans, Lentils, Leafy Greens (Cooked), Gluten free grains (cooked), Squashes, Carrots, Sweet Potato
- Healthy Fats to support intestinal lining and immune system: ghee, soaked nuts and seeds, avocado, fatty fish
- Favor warm over cold food
- Fix your meal times. Do not eat all the time and neither you should skip meals
- Use digestive spices and herbs to build up digestive fire. Add them to herbal teas, meals and take them as nutritional supplements.
- Prefer light to digest foods and avoid excessive fats, proteins and complex carbs in one go.
Following a Gluten Free Diet | Here’s How to Begin
Following a gluten free diet can help treat celiac disease symptoms and heal the lining of small intestines. To avoid recurrence of symptoms and intestinal damage, you should eat a strict gluten free diet. To achieve a balanced diet plan, talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian about what to eat and drink.
People with Celiac Disease should avoid gluten containing foods, such as wheat, barley, and rye. You should also avoid processed foods, dairy products, and refined sugars.
What foods and drinks contain gluten?
- Gluten occurs naturally in certain grains, including wheat, barley, rye and triticale.
- It is also found in foods that contain ingredients made from these grains, including baked goods, baking mixes, breads, cereals, and pastas.
- Drinks such as beer, lagers, ale, flavored liquors, and malt beverages may also contain gluten.
- Many processed foods that contain additives made from gluten containing ingredients such as candy, condiments, hot dogs and sausages, ice cream, salad dressing, and soups.
Which foods can be consumed on a gluten free diet?
- Beans and Lentils
- Fruits, nuts and seeds
- Grains as rice, quinoa, tapioca, millets, corn, amaranth and buckwheat
- Milk, yogurt and gluten free dairy products
- Fresh meats, fish and poultry (not breaded, batter-coated or marinated)
- Herbs and spices
Ayurvedic Lifestyle Guidelines for Celiac Disease Treatment
In addition to taking herbs and making dietary changes, there are a number of lifestyle changes that can help people with Celiac Disease. These include:
- Practice yoga and pranayama to support immune function and promote digestion.
- Avoid excess mental stress and keep your mind relaxed. Practice meditation and enjoyable activities.
- Abhyanga or regular massage will help to improve circulation in the body
- Don’t eat junk food. Eat healthily and avoid getting hungry so that you can better resist the temptation to eat junk food.
- Keep a regular, again, regular, sleep pattern in the night. Learn here on Ayurvedic guidelines for good sleep.
- Include a wide variety of nutrients in your meals to prevent nutritional deficiencies.
Yoga for Celiac Disease Treatment
Yoga is highly beneficial for celiac disease. It helps to improve digestion, balances immune response and eliminate toxins, which is why it’s such an effective treatment for celiac disease.
If you’re suffering from gluten disorders, celiac disease and food allergies, you should incorporate following yoga poses in your daily routine:
- Sarvangasana (shoulder stand pose)
- Matsyasana (Fish Pose)
- Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)
- Sirshasana (Headstand Pose)
- Setubandhasana (Bridge Pose)
- Halasana (Plough Pose)
- Other poses include the corpse pose, fish pose, legs-up-the-wall pose, boat pose, camel pose, cobra pose, and many more.
Ayurveda offers effective natural ways to heal the small intestine and treat gluten intolerance as observed in celiac disease. Ayurvedic diet, lifestyle and medication provides a holistic natural avenue for permanent relief from health symptoms at the root cause level.
Consult with Medhya’s Ayurvedic Health Experts to get your personalised health plan involving prescription for Ayurvedic medicine, diet, yoga and lifestyle guidelines.
1. How do you cure celiac disease permanently?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the best way to treat celiac disease may vary depending on an individual’s specific symptoms and constitution. However, many people with coeliac disease find that following an Ayurvedic diet and lifestyle helps to improve their symptoms and overall health.
The Ayurvedic approach focuses on restoring balance within the body, and emphasizes the importance of dietary and lifestyle habits that are supportive of optimal health. An Ayurvedic diet for celiac disease would be helpful to remove gluten and other foods that trigger inflammation. Ayurveda emphasizes healthy, nutrient-rich foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds.
2. Can villi grow back?
Yes, villi can grow back. Villi are the small, finger-like projections that line the small intestine and increase the surface area available for absorption of nutrients from food. Damage to the villi can occur as a result of infection, inflammation, or injury. In some cases, the villi may be completely destroyed. However, if only a few of the villi are damaged, they will usually grow back within a few days. If most of the villi are damaged or destroyed, however, it may take several weeks for them to grow back.