Peter Green, the director of Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University and the Phyllis and Ivan Seidenberg Professor of Medicine at Columbia University told us ways you can tell if you have celiac disease that makes you allergic to gluten.
Peter Green: If you have celiac disease, and you stop eating gluten, many things improve, like it’s well-documented that people with celiac disease can have a kind of brain fog.
And we think the term “brain fog,” which actually the patient started using, mean is really, can be translated into like minor cognitive defects.
And there was a study out of Australia actually, that looked at individuals when they were diagnosed with celiac disease and then after a year on a gluten-free diet.
And there was cognitive impairment that was equivalent to severe jet lag or driving with an alcohol level that impairs your cognitive abilities and people with celiac disease had that degree of impairment and that improved on a gluten-free diet.
We evolved to eat meat and our digestive enzymes fully chop up meat protein into single amino acids. Dimers and trimers — one, two, or three amino acids.
Because we didn’t evolve to eat wheat, our enzymes can’t fully chop up these proteins in gluten and we’re left with larger amino acid molecules like up to 33 amino acids long and these will get into the small intestine, an immune reaction can be set up.
Because if you have a particular genetic makeup, and have some inflammation going on, and be eating gluten, one will develop this immune response that will cause further inflammation.
This inflammatory response occurs in celiac disease and can cause a variety of symptoms. In little children, it can cause severe malabsorption syndromes with stunted growth, recurrent abdominal pain, and gastrointestinal symptoms, mainly diarrhea.
In adults, it may just cause osteoporosis, or iron deficiency anemia, or peripheral neuropathy. The results of this inflammatory process can be very, very diverse. The diversity of the symptoms make it hard to diagnose.