What is Celiac Sprue?

Probably better thought of as "gluten intolerance," celiac sprue is a disorder in which the lining of the intestine reacts to the protein (called gliadin) found in wheat, oats, barley, and rye. The irritated intestine ceases to function properly and becomes unable to absorb fat (and ultimately protein, starch, and water as well).

The unabsorbed fat passes through, causing bulky, pale, frothy, greasy bowel movements that smell quite foul and float. Unfortunately, if you cannot absorb fat, you also cannot absorb a number of other crucial nutrients, such as the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. Celiac SprueDeficiencies of these vitamins, the B vitamin group, and important minerals, such as iron, zinc, and selenium, cause a whole host of medical problems for the person suffering with celiac sprue: anemia, depression, dry skin, swelling, cracking at the edges of the mouth, bruising, and weak bones, to name only a few. We invite you to review the discussion of each of these vitamins and minerals in the A-to-Z Nutrient listings to see how many and varied the symptoms occasioned by deficiencies that occur with celiac sprue can be. The treatment is quite straightforward: Totally eliminate gluten from your diet. With elimination, your symptoms will clear. If you eat gluten containing foods, your symptoms will quickly return.

What makes Celiac Sprue worse?

• Gluten, the protein found in wheat, buckwheat, barley, oats, and rye, is the offending antagonist and the irritant that you must eliminate entirely from your diet. Recommendation: Strive for total avoidance of all products made from these grains or their flours/ meals, including: breads, pastries, crackers, muffins, cereal, breading on fried foods, pasta, beer, malt, and many medication tablets that use gluten as a filler. Your grain sources become rice and corn. Fortunately, nowadays, many health and nutrition stores or specialty groceries carry rice flour, which you can use in baking in place of wheat flour.

• Celiac SprueLactose, the sugar found in dairy products, requires a special enzyme (called lactase) to be absorbed in the intestine. Although people with sprue have this enzyme, their irritated bowel lining can't make it properly. As long as the sprue is active, you may be intolerant to dairy products, and eating cheeses, milk products, or butter may cause diarrhea, cramping, and bloating. After bowel recovery using a strict gluten-free diet, you will most likely be able to tolerate dairy products once again. Recommendation: Until bowel symptoms subside, avoid dairy products. After you are symptom free, reintroduce them slowly into your diet, beginning with small servings of yogurt or cultured buttermilk, then if you tolerate those, moving on to milk, cheese, and butter.

Celiac natural remedies

• Alfalfa supplies vitamin K, which is often deficient in people with this disorder. We recommend getting your alfalfa in tablet form. Dosages may vary; follow package directions.

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Celiac Sprue
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