Celiac disease, also called celiac sprue, is an inherited disease that damages the small intestine and interferes with digestion. People with this disease cannot tolerate a protein called gluten, and as a result, they have trouble absorbing nutrients from food. Gluten is found in wheat, barley, rye, and possibly oat products. Some vitamins and medicines also contain gluten. The small intestine is lined with fingerlike projections called villi, which help absorb nutrients. In celiac disease, these villi become flattened, so they don’t work as well and the person becomes malnourished. Researchers don’t know the exact cause of celiac disease. Once thought rare, recent research suggests that an estimated 1 of every 133 Americans has celiac disease. However, in the United States, only a small fraction of people living with the disease are diagnosed. People who have a family history of celiac disease are at greater risk for developing the condition. It is most common in Caucasians and those of European ancestry. Women are affected more commonly than men.
A naturopathic approach to treating someone with inflammatory bowel disease starts with a Comprehensive gastrointestinal restoration program –the 4 ‘R’ program.
- Removing offending substances from the diet. Food allergens and other materials that negatively influence the intestinal environment can cause localized irritation or trigger the release of damaging chemicals into general circulation, affection other tissues and organs. (IBD)
- Replacing digestive enzymes and stomach acid where necessary. Digestive factors and enzymes facilitate the breakdown of food. An insufficiency of these compounds is very common, especially as we age, which inhibits optimal digestion and utilization of nutrients, as well as the elimination of waste.
- Reinoculating the bowel with pre- and probiotics. Reintroducing health-promoting, “friendly” bacteria such as Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM® helps maintain a desirable balance of GI microflora. This balance is critical to intestinal tissue (mucosal) health, immune function, intestinal barrier function, and digestion.
- Regenerating the gastrointestinal mucosa through proper nutritional support. Regeneration of GI mucosal cells is necessary whenever there has been a loss of integrity of the GI mucosal structure or function, as may be caused by any GI insult.