Miss Universe 2021 Harnaaz Sandhu who has been on the receiving end of some nasty comments by netizens due to a slight weight gain recently shared with media that she’s suffering from celiac disease, an immune reaction to eating gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. She said during a Chandigarh event “nobody knows about my celiac disease. That I can’t eat wheat flour and many other things.” (Also read: Gluten free diets can do more harm than good. Here’s how to stay healthy)
Here’s all you want to know about celiac disease, its symptoms, causes, and if it could cause weight gain or weight loss in some people.
What is Celiac disease
“Celiac disease is a condition that makes it hard for your body to break down gluten. Gluten is a protein that is found in wheat, rye, barley and oats. Gluten is found in foods like bread, pasta, pizza, and cereal,” says Dr Honey Savla, Consultant Internal Medicine, Wockhardt Hospital, Mumbai Central.
According to National Library of Medicine, Celiac disease (CD) is a systemic, immune mediated disorder that occurs in individuals with a genetic predisposition in response to ingestion of dietary gluten. It is a common but markedly under-diagnosed condition. It may lead to serious long-term complications if untreated.
“Celiac disease can be termed as a worrisome digestive and immune disorder that tends to damage one’s small intestine and impacts your overall well-being. This disease can get triggered by having foods that contain gluten. It can lead to serious digestive problems and keep your body away from getting all the nutrients it needs. As time passes, the small intestine’s lining will get damaged and there will be a malabsorption of nutrients. You will be shocked to know that there is no permanent cure for celiac disease, but following a strict gluten-free diet can help those with this disease manage the symptoms and promote intestinal healing,” says Dr Roy Patankar, Gastroenterologist and Director of Zen Multispecialty Hospital, Chembur, Mumbai.
Symptoms of celiac disease
Dr Honey Savla says that in people with celiac disease, gluten damages the intestines and the following symptoms can be observed:
● Pain in the belly
● Weight loss
● Feeling bloated, or too full all the time
● Low appetite
● Bad gas
● Itchy skin rashes.
It can be confirmed by blood test and duodenal biopsy,which will be sent for histopathology.
Treatment includes compliance with gluten free diet and replacement of vitamins which arent absorbed.
Dr Patankar, however, says the symptoms of celiac disease can vary from person to person.
“The common signs that one may notice are diarrhoea, fatigue, weight loss, bloating, glass, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, and even constipation. Moreover, some adults will also showcase signs like anaemia, mouth ulcers, headaches, itchy skin, joint pain, and even loss of bone density. Also, some people with this disease will have no symptoms,” says the expert.
How to treat celiac disease
“In order to treat celiac disease, try to follow a gluten-free diet. An expert will help you to know what you should eat and delete from the diet. Remember to remove foods and drinks that contain gluten,” says Dr Patankar.
“Try to eat fruits such as oranges, bananas, apples, berries cruciferous vegetables, including cauliflower, broccoli, greens, spinach, kale, potatoes, corn, bell peppers, mushrooms, onions, carrots, peas, chickpeas, lentils, gluten-free whole grains, and dairy products. Avoid wheat, white bread, soy sauce, barbecue sauce, salad dressings, marinades, cakes, cookies, pastries, pancakes, waffles, noodles, energy bars, beer, puddings, and instant dessert mixes,” adds the expert.
Do people lose or gain weight when suffering from celiac disease?
Although celiac disease is associated with losing weight and being thin as it damages the lining of the small intestine, causes malnutrition and malabsorption, the disorder may also lead to weight gain in some casues.
As per a study published in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology, 15.2% of adults with celiac disease were overweight when they were diagnosed and 6.8% were obese. Together, these outnumbered the 17.3% who were underweight. It shows that it is not rare for a person with celiac disease to be overweight.