Is celiac disease worse in anemia sufferers?

“Current medical science describes diarrhea as a classical symptom of celiac disease, while anemia is described as an atypical or silent manifestation,” this according to Jefferson Adams in an article recently published on

I found this statement particularly interesting, especially considering that it was 20 years of chronic unexplained anemia that eventually led to my celiac diagnosis.

The article goes on to say that very little information exists that “accurately compares the severity of celiac disease between patients who present with anemia against those who present with diarrhea”.

Consequently, a research team affiliated with the Celiac Disease Center, Department of Internal Medicine at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York embarked on a study to determine whether celiac disease is worse in anemia sufferers than people with diarrhea.

“For their study,” the article continues, “the researchers selected a study group of 727 patients from a database of celiac disease patients evaluated at a tertiary referral center between 1990 and 2011. They used the degree of villous atrophy and clinical and serologic parameters to determine the severity of the celiac disease for each patient.

“The team compared patients according to mode of presentation and sex. They also conducted age and sex-adjusted multi-variable analyses to assess the association between the mode of celiac disease presentation and cholesterol level, bone density, severity of Villous atrophy, erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), and level of anti-tissue transglutaminase (anti-tTG).

“They found that just over three-quarters of the patients presented with diarrhea, while just under one-quarter presented with anemia; 92% of which was iron deficient anemia.

“Multiple regression analysis showed that celiac disease with anemia was associated with lower levels of total cholesterol (P=.02) and high-density lipoprotein (P=.002), and a higher ESR (P=.001) and level of anti-tTG (P=.01). In women only, celiac disease with anemia was associated with a lower level of cholesterol.

Anemic patients were more than twice as likely to have severe villous atrophy and a low bone mass density at time they were diagnosed with celiac disease than were patients who presented with diarrhea.

The research concluded that “celiac disease patients who present with anemia have more severe disease than those who present with diarrhea”. It stated further that there seems to be sex-specific differences with respect to the connection between anemia and the various features of celiac disease, such as cholesterol.

In the 20 years leading up to my diagnosis, diarrhea never featured as a symptom and I can’t help wondering whether, had I been a diarrhea sufferer, this would have led to a quicker diagnosis. Then again, so many celiac sufferers who present with diarrhea are incorrectly diagnosed with IBS or similar ailments, so perhaps I should consider myself fortunate to have be diagnosed at all.

By the time I was diagnosed, the damage to my small intestine was so bad that my body could no longer absorb iron at all and I was forced to undergo intravenous iron transfusions at least once every two years. Additionally, I had become an ice-aholic, chewing ice cubes at a rate that drove my family crazy.

Today, almost three years later, I continue to enjoy the incredible lightness of being Glutenoptic, and am still free of more than just gluten. The journey can be tough at times, but it is most certainly worthwhile.


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Posted by on 4 December 2013 in Uncategorized


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Gwyneth Paltrow talks gluten-free in advance of Iron Man 3 24 May 2013 – Gwyneth Paltrow is gluten-free and on a publicity swing as part of her role in Iron Man 3.

Photo: CC--Yausser

In an interview in Self magazine, Oscar winner Gwyneth Paltrow spoke a bit about the benefits of eating gluten-free, and about her gluten-free cook book due out next month.

The 40-year old actor explained how giving up gluten has changed her life for the better. For one thing, she says, she feels lighter and more relaxed. Before going gluten-free, Paltrow says she had “a lot of unexpressed anger. I made everyone else’s feelings more important than my own. I’d suck it up and then be alone in my car yelling at traffic or fighting with hangers in my closet when they got stuck together.”

Paltrow has been derided by some for perhaps being too strict with her children’s diets, by some for making her children a gluten-free diet, and by others for allowing them to break that diet.

But the “Iron Man” star explained to Dr. Mehmet Oz, that the dietary restrictions were due to her children’s allergies, rather than stern parenting style. She said that Moses, 6, “has very bad eczema and he’s allergic to gluten and she [daughter Apple, 8] is allergic to cow dairy.”

She adds that, at home, she tries “to make everything gluten-free for him because the difference in his comfort is unbelievable when he’s sticking to what he’s meant to be eating.”

Paltrow’s new cookbook, “It’s All Good,” details how she steers clear of processed grains when feeding her children, and goes out of her way to avoid gluten.

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Posted by on 28 May 2013 in Uncategorized


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2012 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 3,700 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 6 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Posted by on 1 January 2013 in Uncategorized


I can so relate…

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Posted by on 14 March 2012 in Uncategorized


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The top eight diseases related to Celiac (and how to reduce your risk of them)

February 07, 2012 by Zach Rachins

Celiac disease doesn’t just cause weight loss or gain, diarrhea, bloating and fatigue. It is linked to a variety of diseases and conditions, some of which can be life-threatening.

The good news?

A 100 per cent gluten-free diet will do wonders. Add nutritional support through supplementation, and you’ll be on the road to healing the intestinal damage from celiac disease while dramatically reducing your risk of developing many of the diseases associated with untreated celiac disease.

Here are the top eightdiseases related to celiac disease. If you have celiac, a gluten-free diet will dramatically reduce your risk of all of them. However, for those of you looking to treat celiac disease beyond the gluten-free diet, here is some additional guidance for reducing your risk of developing these diseases.

Dermatitis Herpetiformis (DH) – This is a skin manifestation of celiac disease that results in itchy blistery rashes. The most common sites for this rash are the elbows, knees and buttocks. People with this condition may or may not have digestive celiac symptoms. It can be resolved through a gluten-free diet, the strict use of gluten-free body care products, and specific antibiotics.

Osteoporosis – In untreated celiac disease, excess fat is lost in one’s bowel movements. This fat interferes with Vitamin D and calcium absorption, which in turn causes softening of the bones (osteomalacia) and bone density loss (osteoporosis). Make sure you’re getting plenty of calcium, vitamin D and magnesium through your diet or through supplementation. Adding a regimen of weight-bearing exercise will help as well.

Iron Deficiency Anemia – Caused by malabsorption, this is a common condition that results from celiac disease and can be addressed through improved nutrient absorption via intestinal healing. The gluten-free diet is paramount, but supplementation with things like zinc, glutamine and citrus bioflavonoids initiates and increases the speed at which your gut heals. Short-term iron supplementation may be necessary as well. Consume vitamin C-containing foods with iron-rich foods in order to improve iron absorption.

Depression and Anxiety – The cause of these conditions is not known but may be associated with malnutrition resulting from malabsorption, as well as neurological impacts of untreated celiac disease. Omega 3 fatty acids, B-complex vitamins, exercise and a balanced diet can help. There are also some new theories, and as times goes on, hopefully we’ll continue to see progress on this topic. It sure is a serious one.

Infertility and Recurring Miscarriage – Malabsorption of key nutrients contributes to these challenges. Fertility may be affected in men as well as women. Nutritional imbalances must be corrected, including malabsorption of zinc, selenium, iron, and folate. Supplementing with these nutrients may be necessary while the gut’s absorptive abilities are slowly improved through a gluten-free diet.

Lactose Intolerance – The inability to digest lactose, the sugar in milk products, is very common in celiacs due to intestinal damage. After a while on a gluten-free diet you may be able to digest it again. Anyone with lactose intolerance will benefit from probiotic supplementation, and some may be able to digest lower-lactose foods such as yogurt and hard cheeses in moderation.

Intestinal Cancer – Intestinal lymphoma and bowel cancer are the biggest risks for celiacs, and are most effectively addressed through gluten-free diet compliance. However, eating a diet based around fruits, vegetables and whole grains and containing minimal red meat may help reduce your risk factors. Needless to say, maintaining a healthy lifestyle complete with exercise and stress-reduction helps as well.

Neurological Disorders – From migraines to numbness, celiac patients report all types of neurological disturbance. These are best aided by diet compliance but can also be aided in some cases by vitamin B12 supplementation and prescription medications where necessary.

The number one goal for reducing one’s risk of any of these diseases is total compliance with the gluten-free diet. The second goal is to help the gut gradually heal and restore its ability to absorb nutrients, which can be attained via a balanced diet, probiotics, and supplements designed to help you meet your nutrient needs while you heal.

via Celiac Nutrition and Gluten Free Health Blog.

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Posted by on 9 February 2012 in Uncategorized


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42 000 children may die every year from Coeliac Disease

3 August 2011: One of Africa’s and Asia’s biggest public health problems has had greater light shed on it through a study undertaken by researchers at Wits University and Umea University, Sweden, who have compiled the first global estimates of coeliac disease and associated mortality.

Their findings, published in the journal PLoS ONE, estimates that around 42 000 children may die every year from coeliac disease, mostly from the African and Asian continents.

Coeliac disease is an auto-immune disorder of the small intestine that occurs in genetically predisposed people of all ages from middle infancy onward. It is caused by a reaction to gliadin, a prolamin (gluten protein) found in wheat, and similar proteins found in other common grains such as barley and rye.

In the 1930s, before the discovery of the gluten-free diet as the way to manage coeliac disease, results from Great Ormond Street Hospital in London1 showed very high mortality among children with coeliac disease. Mostly these days, the disease is well-managed by avoiding gluten. However in poorer settings, particularly where other diarrhoeal diseases are common, questions about gluten intolerance may not be raised, and consequently children may die.

“Coeliac disease may not be one of the world’s biggest killers, but it is a readily preventable cause of death. Much more awareness is needed in the poorer parts of the world – and in particular gluten-bearing food supplements for malnourished children need to be used in the knowledge that they could be harmful to the small proportion suffering from coeliac disease,” says Prof. Peter Byass, research team leader from the Umeå Centre for Global Health Research, Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine at Umeå University.

Coeliac disease has emerged as an increasingly recognised public health problem over the last half-century, and is now seen as a global phenomenon, despite a profound lack of globally representative epidemiological data. Since children with coeliac disease commonly present with chronic diarrhoea and malnutrition, diagnosis is often overlooked, particularly in poorer settings where children often fail to thrive and water-borne infectious diarrhoeas are common. This is the first attempt to make global estimates of the burden of coeliac disease in childhood.

Building a model of childhood coeliac disease, the researchers took into account estimates of population prevalence, probability of non-diagnosis, and likelihood of mortality among the undiagnosed across all countries from 1970 to 2010, based around the few available data.

According to the model, in 2010 there were around 2.2 million children under five years of age living with coeliac disease. Among these children there could be 42 000 deaths related to coeliac disease annually. In 2008, deaths related to coeliac disease probably accounted for approximately 4% of all childhood diarrhoeal mortality.

The researchers found that although coeliac disease may only account for a small proportion of diarrhoeal mortality, these deaths are not preventable by applying normal diarrhoea treatment guidelines, which may even involve gluten-based food supplements. As other causes of diarrhoeal mortality decline, coeliac disease will become a proportionately increasing problem unless consideration is given to trying gluten-free diets for children with chronic diarrhoea and malnutrition.

The authors hope that increased awareness of the consequences of gluten intolerance will lead to better data and the saving of lives in the future.

To read the paper in PLoS one, click here

For further information contact Professor Kathleen Kahn at



Posted by on 25 January 2012 in Uncategorized


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Quick and yummy scrambled eggs

I woke up one morning feeling like scrambled eggs for breakfast, but wanted to make them a little more interesting. After surveying the contents of my fridge, I came up with the following recipe, which I think is just yum:

For a single serving, beat together two eggs  and one tablespoon of milk. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Strip the needles from a few sprigs of fresh thyme and add them to the egg mixture.

Heat a little olive oil in a pan over moderate heat and pour in the egg mixture and thyme. Scrape and fold the eggs until just before they are done the way you like it.

Crumble in the feta cheese and give the eggs another scrape and fold. Serve immediately while the cheese is still melting.


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Posted by on 13 December 2011 in Recipes


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