Sunday, November 1, 2009

the celiac disease/ heart disease connection and local food

I read this morning that people with celiac disease are 47% less likely to die of cancer, but 48% more likely to die of heart disease.  Cardiomyopathy (a defect in the heart muscle itself that may go along with tachycardia or arrythmia, weak valves and edema) appears to be relatively common among celiacs.  2-3 times as many celiacs get heart transplants than the general population and insufficient blood flow and spitting up blood, which I was doing a lot of before my attack, also appear to be relatively common. 

My thoughts:  maybe celiacs have less cancer because the disease almost FORCES them to avoid processed foods.  Gluten is not only in bread, but also is in many products that contain carcinogenic ingredients like msg and nitrates. 

However, gluten free cookies and crackers, which are commonly available, are just as likely to contain trans fats, which are horrible for the heart, as regular cookies and crackers.  Celiacs have a great deal more trouble digesting and holding onto nutrients because of intestinal damage.  Although the intestines will gradually heal in those who follow their gluten free diet religiously, years of malnutrition may take quite a toll on the heart muscle.  Virtually all celiacs are deficient in B complex vitamins, especially folic acid, and some are deficient in selenium. 

The good news:  I read elsewhere that selenium supplementation is very helpful to cardiomyopathy patients.  Since I eat 90% local food, I looked up where I live now and where I lived previously on a map of selenium in the soil.  And guess what?  I have lived in selenium deficient areas 43 of the 44 years I've been on this earth!  So I've got some on order from, along with a good raw multivitamin. 

Selenium deficiency is the only negative I've found to eating local foods.  Otherwise, I am happy to eat local, even when summer produce is no longer available.  Since I do not eat winter produce in the summer and summer produce in the winter (with the exception of bananas, which are a cheap source of both potassium and tryptothan), I don't feel deprived.  By October, I haven't eaten a potato in five months, and suddenly, although I eat a lot of raw food, baked and boiled potatoes seem like an indulgence to me.    Apples are awful in the summer.  But I eat three a day, raw, most of the winter.  They are a handy lunch food, along with carrots and celery.  I don't tire of them until they start losing their crispness and juiciness, about February or so. 

I am grateful to learn that there may be a natural treatment for me so I don't have to go under the knife.  I've had two fairly comfortable nights in a row.  I have been taking my natural diuretic and I have avoided gluten like the plague, even in tiny amounts like in soy sauce.  Mom came to help me with the shop and took me out for gluten free pizza at Pedotti's.  I wasn't hungry until it got to the table and it smelled so good, I became ravenous and devoured my half with gusto.  Apparently the owner's son has celiac disease and so they offer quite a few gluten free selections.  Mom, who can eat regular pizza, agreed that Pedotti's pizza was delicious.  So if you're ever in Sutherlin, stop in!  They are just a few blocks off I-5, next to the visitors' center. 


Blogger Linda said...

My 10 month old grandchild had a heart transplant two months ago. I have CD and my daughter is carrying the CD gene (whatever that means). Is there a link between MY CD and my grandson's dilated cardiomyopathy?

November 1, 2009 at 2:41 PM  
Blogger Lulu said...

Many people with cardiomyopathy also need some thiamine. B complex and additional thiamine may be beneficial. Many people with Celiac or gluten intolerance are suffering from poor digestion and have for years and supplementation is vital. Magnesium and COQ10 will also help in this instance.

November 3, 2009 at 9:24 AM  
Blogger Larisa said...

To Linda: A good general information website is I would definitely plan on getting your grandchild tested and even before you get the results, completely removing all sources of gluten just in case. You may also want to check for other food intolerances or allergies, since it is common for celiacs to have multiple intolerances. It may be your grandchild is not officially celiac, but may develop it later so it would be prudent for all of you to limit exposure. I, personally knew I was intolerant but only recently (at age 44) developed serious symptoms. I wish I had been more vigilant. I hope your entire family copes well and live good lives from here on out!

In September, I gave myself several B complex injections, although I certainly can't recommend that to others... I've done quite a bit of my own veterinary work on my farms and occasionally I do things that may or may not be wise because I am without health insurance and broke. That said, although I am still having symptoms OFTEN, they have been more manageable. It's gotten to the point where only people who know me see me hold onto walls for balance or touch my chest when it hurts; I am able to keep talking, standing and acting fairly normal. I am also taking magnesium and Coenzyme Q10 (the fermented ubiquinone type) as well as a good raw multivitamin.

Since I eat better than probably 99% of the population, I was somewhat stunned to realize I am suffering from malnutrition, but that is what celiac disease does. Eating well and supplementation are far preferable to a heart transplant. A statistic that shocked me was that heart transplant patients are 2.5% MORE LIKELY TO BE CELIACS than non-celiacs, even though celiacs only make up 1% of the population. If that isn't a wake up call while I'm suffering heart pain, I don't know what is. It is time to get serious about this.

I worry also about my daughter, who we suspect has celiac disease. She has no heart symptoms, but heart trouble runs in the family and so does diabetes. Celiacs are also more prone to type II diabetes.

All that makes me sound depressed about it, but it is comforting in a way to know that a number of small and large health issues may all be related. I have been feeling a little more upbeat and have actually caught myself humming as I've been playing with gluten free food. Things are going to be ok.

November 6, 2009 at 5:20 AM  

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