Celiac.com 07/06/2017 - Each New Year you will find a plethora of articles on weight loss. Unfortunately, for those with celiac disease, weight loss is not always an issue, but for some the opposite is true. Though much false information in the medical community remains, such as "you must be underweight to have celiac disease", there are many who are overweight. Whether you want to gain or lose weight, they have one thing in common, the need for nutritious food, and food that does not cause inflammation in the body.
When we consume foods that we are either allergic to or sensitive to, our white blood cells release toxic chemicals to fight off what it perceives as foreign bodies resulting in inflammation. If our bodies are too busy fighting off inflammation from a non-optimal diet or stress, they do not have enough resources to fight the real bad guys.
Some of the foods known to fight or prevent inflammation are spices such as turmeric, curry, cinnamon, ginger, and garlic; tropical fruit such as coconut, pineapple (contains a natural antihistamine), and papaya; green tea; fish oil and fish; and a wide variety of colorful vegetables such as spinach, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, kelp, red peppers, sweet potatoes, and cabbage.
Research shows that omega-3's are not only known to reduce inflammation, but it may lower the risk of chronic diseases such as arthritis, cancer and heart disease(1). Because our bodies cannot make omega-3 fatty acids we must obtain them from food or supplements. If your doctor has recommended that you take an omega-3 supplement or increase omega-3 in your diet, it is important that you know the two main types. Omega-3's which are marine-based (fish and fish oil) contain EPA and DHA, where the other contains ALA. ALA omega-3 may be obtained from soybean, canola, and flax seed oils, ground flax seed, and walnuts, as well as kale, spinach, Brussels sprouts, and leafy greens. Though our body does not make omega-3's, it does partially convert ALA to DHA and EPA. Per Harvard School of Public Health, we do not know which, if either, is more beneficial (2,3). Research does show that EPA and DHA do reduce the risk of heart disease in older adults.(4) When ALA is added to our diet it is known to reduce the risk of breast cancer and prostate cancer, as it helps your body metabolize estrogens into a safer form.
You may already be aware of the fact that aloe vera contains a gel-like substance that is known to heal. (As a side note, aloe vera products sometimes contain laytex.) Flax seeds contain the same property. It is also high in omega-3, though yellow flax seeds are lower. Brown flax seeds have the most health benefits.
Another popular superfood is chia seeds. It does not contain the same properties as flax, however, chia seeds provide similar benefits as flax, and they do not need to be ground in order to reap those benefits. Chia benefits include fiber, calcium, antioxidants, protein, and more.
Fiber is known to make one feel full, however, both flax and chia seeds absorb quite a bit of liquid, creating the feeling of fullness for a longer period of time than many other fibers. This is a great and healthy way to lose weight.
A misconception about losing weight is to skip meals. When you do this it throws your blood sugar levels out of whack. Some believe this results in weight gain, or at least in no loss. Minimally, it is unhealthy. What does make sense is that if you eat more often such as 4 – 5 times a day, and on a regular schedule, your blood sugar levels maintain balance and your body recognizes that it will receive more food soon, which may prevent it from going into a starvation mode, storing fat. The bottom line is always calorie intake, though. Choose wisely, and avoid the use of refined sugar and artificial sweeteners, as this increases acidity in the body, resulting in inflammation. When chronic inflammation is present in the body it depresses the immune system and creates disease, even tumors.(2) Inflammation really is the precursor to disease.
For those with celiac disease needing to gain weight, note that it may take several months to up to a year before your gut is healed enough to absorb nutrients properly. Meanwhile, check the ingredients and foods that you consume to ensure they are truly gluten-free. Due to the lack of labeling laws in the U.S., a food labeled gluten-free may still contain a small amount of gluten. Consume a high calorie diet with healthy fats such as avocado,coconut oil, high calorie nuts such as walnuts and pecans, nut butters, and if dairy-tolerant, cream cheese. Add avocado to your sandwiches, healthy oil to protein shakes and smoothies; consume high carbohydrates such as potatoes; and snack between meals.
Individuals who need to avoid dairy may find it difficult at times. There are a number of gluten-free, dairy-free substitutes on the market now. If you are soy and corn intolerant, as well, you may find it difficult to find a dairy-free substitute for butter. A small percentage of dairy intolerant individuals may tolerate goat's milk; and some even tolerate ghee (clarified butter). Because a minute amount of dairy protein may remain in ghee, and because goat's milk is considered dairy, it is best to be tested for food allergies if you suspect a dairy allergy, prior to consuming the above.
Previous studies on food allergies focused on antibodies (proteins that attack foreign substances and sometimes even food) found in the blood. In a preliminary study performed by the University of Osio, Norway, it was discovered that food-related antibodies may end up in the gut. When the body mistakes a food for a foreign matter, it creates IgE antibodies (Immunoglobin E), which creates a chain reaction of symptoms. Though the study was performed on those with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), in the participants' intestinal fluid they found antibodies to the following foods: cow's milk, hen, cereal, eggs, codfish, and pork, at higher levels than in non-RA patients.(5) Similar results may be found in those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance, even the general population. We will not know until additional studies are performed. It is definitely food for thought.
If you have any type of unexplained symptoms, that medical professionals have not been able to diagnose, consider being tested for other food intolerances or allergies, besides gluten. Consuming foods that cause your immune system to react will only create additional inflammation. There has been much talk that many individuals have had positive results from using Cyrex Labs. You cannot do these tests by mail, as someone must draw your blood. However Cyrex Labs has a list of doctors who will provide this service.
If you are not quite sure what you are allergic or sensitive to, another option to consider is an allergy elimination diet. For one month eat only meat, fish, fruit, vegetables, basically a caveman diet, quite a bit stricter than the Paleo Diet. (Definitely check with your doctor first.) Then introduce one food at a time back into your diet. Note that food allergy reactions may be immediate or within a couple of days, where a sensitivity may take longer to show up.(6) This is also a great way to lose weight.
If you are new to the gluten-free diet, make sure to introduce new foods, especially gluten free grains, one at the time. Consume the item a few times within a couple of days and wait for 2-4 days and take note whether you have a reaction to it. The reaction may be as complicated as hives, dermatitis herpetiformis, or digestive issues; or as simple as a bad night's sleep or slight bloating. Note that some people may not present any symptoms, even to gluten, and still have celiac disease. The above is referenced for food allergies and sensitivities only. The best advice for anyone who is gluten intolerant is to strictly adhere to the gluten-free diet. One study shows that only 52.1% of those with celiac disease adhere to a gluten-free diet.(7)
What will your New Year's resolution be now?
1. Omega-3 Fatty Acids University of Maryland Medical System http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/omrga-3-000316.htm (Accessed December 6, 2012).
2. Inflammation http://www.arizonaadvancedmedicine.com/articles/inflammation.html (Accessed December 7, 2012).
3. The Nutrition Source, Ask the Expert: Omega-2 Fatty Acids Harvard School of Public Health http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/questions/omega-3/index.html (Accessed December 6, 2012).
4. Circulating long-chain w-3 fatty acids and incidence of congestive heart failure in older adults: the cardiovascular health study: a cohort study. PubMed http://www.ncbi.nlm.nigh.gov/pubmed/21810709 (Accessed December 6, 2012).
5. Denise Lynn Mann Rheumatoid Arthritis Diet: RA and Food Allergies http://www.arthritistoday.org/conditions/rheumatoid-arthritis/nutrition-and-ra/ra-food-allergies.php (Accessed December 7, 2012).
6. Dr. Jonathan Brostoff, M.D. Food Allergies and Food Intolerance: The Complete Guide to Their Identification and Treatment (2000)
7. Talluri SK, Besur S, Talluri J, Department of Internal Medicine, McLaren-MSU Internal Medicine Residency Program, Flint, MI - A Population-Based Survey of Celiac Disease in the United States http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/events/2012nchs/poster_abstracts.htm#abstract74 (Accessed December 7, 2012).