Celiac Disease and Physical Activity
Claire is studying the attitudes of older adults diagnosed with celiac disease toward physical activity at the University of Victoria. She has been diagnosed with celiac disease since she was 20 years old, and writes an academic-oriented gluten-free blog at gfc.tumblr.com, where she posts academic article summaries, corporate correspondence, and a few extras on the side.
Celiac.com 06/02/2009 - Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that
is triggered by gluten, and it is being diagnosed more often than in
the past. Previously considered quite rare, it is now estimated to
occur in 1 in 100-150 people in all societies (with the possible
exception of Japan). Physical activity counters some of the lasting
symptoms of celiac disease, but some of the symptoms actually may
inhibit physical activity. Older adults (+55) with celiac disease may
have positive or negative attitudes toward physical activity. As it
stands, we’re not sure whether celiac disease helps or hinders their
will to exercise.
There are many symptoms associated with celiac disease. They may include neurological symptoms, physical symptoms and overall feelings of fatigue or depression. This makes celiac disease difficult to identify, but also forces individuals with celiac disease to find their own individualized balanced lifestyles. Balanced lifestyles are especially important for older adults with celiac disease because, as anyone diagnosed with a disease knows, they must maintain their physical wellbeing in order to heal. Older adults with celiac disease are also at risk of gaining weight after starting a gluten free diet because their bodies absorb nutrients so much more efficiently than before, and because many gluten-free breads and desert substitutes may be higher in calories than their gluten-containing counterparts.
Because each person with celiac disease exhibits different symptoms, each older adult with celiac disease must find their own way of living with the disease. Their will to excercise depends on how celiac disease has affected their appetite, energy level, mental health, nervous system and overall body functions.
Research about the attitudes of older adults with celiac disease toward physical activity will help to understand:
- The general attitudes of older adults with celiac disease toward physical activity;
- The symptoms of celiac disease that directly or indirectly affect older adults’ attitudes toward physical activity;
- How physicians, recreation centres, celiac associations and the Canadian Government can work with people with celiac disease to maintain or increase their levels of physical activity, and;
- Provide literature on nutrient deficiency and physical activity
to patients in need of information or reassurance about their attitudes
toward physical activity.
Certain studies have shown that allergies can exacerbate or induce food-dependent allergy symptoms (Sampson, 2003). If someone with celiac disease were to experience symptoms as if they were having an allergic reaction to gluten when they conducted certain exercises, they would either try to push through, stop, or change their exercise program or schedule. They could exercise only in the morning, before breakfast and after a long period of not eating, or they could choose activities with less physical impact,
Symptoms of celiac disease may also encourage exercise. If an older adult with celiac disease finds out that they have low bone density, they may choose to increase their weight bearing activity to encourage bone growth.
There is a long list of symptoms that are associated with celiac disease. Some of the symptoms of celiac disease that are documented in literature about include:
- No obvious physical symptoms (just fatigue, overall not feeling well)
- Gastrointestinal symptoms
- Weight loss
- Pallor (unhealthy pale appearance)
- Borborygmi (stomach rumbling)
- Voracious appetite
- Iron deficiency anemia
- Failure to thrive
- Lymphocytic gastritis
- Vitamin B12 deficiency
- Vitamin D deficiency
- Hypocalcaemia/ hypomagnesaemia
- Vitamin K deficiency
- Coetaneous bleeding
- Epitasis (nose bleeding)
- Hematuria (red urine)
- Gastrointestinal hemorrhage
This is the subject of a human geography honours project at the University of Victoria. If you have any comments on the subject, please contact me by using the comment form below this article.
- Sampson, H.A. (2003). Food Allergy. Journal of Allergy Clinical Immunology. 111:2, S540-S547.
- Sategna-Guidetti, C. et al. (2000). The effects of 1-year gluten withdrawal on bone mass, bone metabolism and nutritional status in newly diagnosed adult coeliac disease patients. Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics. 14, 35-43.
- Palosuo, K. (2003). Transglutaminase-mediated cross-linking of a
peptic fraction of w-5 gliadin enhances lgE reactivity in
wheat-dependent, exercise-induced anaphylaxis. Journal of Allergy and
Clinical Immunocology: 111:6, 1386-1392.
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