Weak and pale from fatigue, a woman waits patiently in the examination room for her doctor to return. She thinks she’s just tired. But he has seen these symptoms before, and he knows better. His diagnosis: iron-deficiency anemia caused by celiac disease.
Wow, I want that doctor! Do you mean to tell me that something like anemia could be related to gluten intolerance or celiac disease?
Let’s see. My sister was diagnosed with osteopenia, a condition where the bone density is lower than normal and may be a precursor to osteoporosis. I am so healthy, I thought, there is no way I am a candidate for premature bone loss. But I got checked anyway.
Well, 4 weeks and a painless bone density test later, I found that I too had osteopenia. I was a little annoyed and vowed to do a better job taking my vitamins. But, after reading this fascinating article, “Fighting to Absorb Enough Nutrition,” in Prevention’s Healing with Vitamins (Rodale Books), I realized that it could be related to my gluten intolerance, my inability to digest gluten protein found in the grains wheat, rye, barley, spelt and oats, which caused damage to my gastrointestinal tract for 40 years. This damage causes inflammation and impaired absorption of nutrients, including iron, zinc, folate, magnesium and calcium, triggering diarrhea and fatigue. Even fat and fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D, E and K are passed through my body with only a portion of them being used. And of course, for someone who has celiac disease or gluten intolerance without being diagnosed or controlled with a proper diet, calcium deficiency can result, leading to osteoporosis.
The good news is the intestinal damage caused by untreated cases can be healed through diet and carefully avoiding all gluten, including those found in foods, beauty products and even envelopes. In fact, in one study that looked at whether a gluten-free diet could help children with celiac, researchers found that the bone growth of those on a gluten-free diet was faster than that of healthy children. They concluded that since the children with celiac were behind their counterparts in bone growth, the gluten free diet prompted their bodies to play catch up. However, since calcium absorption can be dramatically reduced by celiac disease, it is recommended for some patients to take calcium supplements.
Also keep in mind, you do not have to experience stomach aches to be gluten intolerant. There are many more symptoms that may seem unrelated to this condition. I will discuss them one by one. This was just one example, because it hit home for me.
Here is my ‘other granola’ recipe. We call it my ‘Other Granola’ because I just started making it this year, after my ‘Lisa’s Granola’ recipe became such a hit. I love THIS granola because it tastes way too good to be good for you. It has tons of vitamins and minerals that are sure to give you energy. Learning about the absorption of nutrients and the struggle that celiacs have to do this inspired me to share this recipe. I know I say this every time, but I dare you not to like it!
The Other Granola Recipe
2 cups certified gluten-free oats
¼ cup flax seeds
1/3 cup sunflower seeds
½ cup raisins
1/3 cup dates
1/3 cup carob chips
½ cup organic natural crunchy peanut butter
½ cup honey
½ teaspoon vanilla
5 tablespoons coconut oil
Combine all the dry ingredients into a large bowl.
In a small saucepan, combine the peanut butter, honey, coconut oil, and vanilla. Once the peanut butter mixture is combined, mix it with the dry ingredients until the oat mixture is moistened.
Press the granola in a shallow pan lined with parchment paper.
Bake for 30 minutes at 300 degrees.
Cool for at least 20 minutes and store in a sealed container.