AS THE SAYING GOES, KNOWING IS HALF THE BATTLE
Being diagnosed with Celiac Disease can feel a little scary, but it can also be an excellent opportunity to better understand what is happening with your body, and what it needs to cross the victory line of health and wellness. Here are some important questions to ask your doctor:
Can I be tested for nutritional deficiencies?
One of the side effects that many with celiac disease suffer from is malnutrition; however, a person’s nutritional status isn’t always obvious. Common deficiencies include B vitamins like Folate and B12, Iron, Magnesium, Calcium, Vitamin D, and essential fatty acids. Testing for deficiencies in these nutrients may help you better understand your dietary needs as you travel down the road to intestinal villi recovery.
How bad is my intestinal damage?
Damage to your villi (these help absorb nutrients from your food and are located in the small intestine) is ranked on a scale from 0–4. This scale is known as the Marsh score. A zero means normal intestinal villi, while a score of 4 would mean completely flattened villi. Knowing your Marsh score is important. If your damage is severe, you and your doctor may decide additional screening for other health problems may be appropriate and beneficial for your long-term health. Don’t be shy in asking your doctor for this information.
Can you recommend a nutritionist or registered dieticians who have experience with celiac disease?
Changing your diet and ensuring that your meal plan is in line with your individual body’s needs is a daunting task at the start. Especially if you have other special dietary needs. A trained nutrition expert can help you develop a nutrition plan, meal ideas, teach you how to read food labels to identify potentially less obvious gluten sources.
Should I get scanned for osteoporosis and osteopenia?
Both osteoporosis and osteopenia are common in patients newly diagnosed with celiac disease due to intestinal damage. This intestinal damage can prevent the body from absorbing calcium, vitamin D, and magnesium, all of which are key building blocks of bones. A bone density scan can help diagnose thinned bones and determine if you need a bone mass building plan.
Can I still eat dairy?
Lactose is broken down by an enzyme called lactase, which is produced by the tips of the intestinal villi. If your villi are eroded due to celiac disease, then you can’t make lactase, and you can’t digest lactose. Once the villi heal and begin to produce lactase again following a gluten-free diet for some time, some of the lactose intolerance can be reversed in this situation.
Should my family be tested for celiac disease too even if they’re not showing symptoms?
As celiac disease is genetic, experts usually recommend that all of your immediate relatives, such as parents, siblings, and children, get tested. Immediate relatives have a 1 in 22 chance of having celiac over their lifetime. A simple one-time test can provide you and your family with peace of mind and direction.