According to the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center, an average of one out of every 133 people in the United States suffers from the digestive disorder known as celiac disease. In actuality, this number is probably higher due to the fact that it’s a difficult disease to diagnose.
Celiac disease is an abnormal digestive condition triggered by the protein gluten. When people with celiac disease eat foods that contain gluten (proteins found in certain grains such as wheat, rye and barley), their immune system responds with a reaction that causes chronic inflammation and damages the small intestine. This reaction blocks nutrient absorption so no matter how many nutrients enter the body, too few are utilized, leading to malnourishment. Other effects of celiac disease include episodes of depression and anxiety as well as a high level of gut barrier permeability, which allows harmful bacteria into the digestive system at a higher rate.
The key to returning the body to optimal health after a celiac disease diagnosis is to find a way to absorb necessary nutrients so that the small intestine can work to repair itself. Regular use of effective probiotic supplements like Vidazorb® can aid in immediate improvement as well as ongoing nutrient absorption. Repairing the gut takes time and, along with a probiotic regimen, those with celiac disease need to adhere to a gluten free diet for the rest of their lives.
Probiotics are defined as live microorganisms which, when consumed in adequate amounts, provide a health benefit to the host. The main job of these beneficial bacteria is to help digest and absorb nutrients as food particles pass through the gastrointestinal tract (GIT). The GIT contains both good and bad bacteria, and while achieving a positive bacterial balance is important for everyone, it is especially helpful in managing celiac disease on a daily basis.
In addition to restoring intestinal balance, recent research has demonstrated that probiotics help digest gluten particles in the small intestine. Gluten is made up of glutenin and gliadin proteins. Gliadin is the specific cause of the inflammation and tissue damage in those with celiac disease, due to its partial digestion in the small intestine. Probiotics have been shown to assist in digesting gliadin proteins down to harmless peptides2 and scientists are looking closer into this reaction in people afflicted with celiac disease.
Although a gluten-free diet is the ideal solution for those with celiac disease, many foods thought to not contain gluten actually have small amounts, making it difficult to maintain a diet completely rid of gluten. Taking a probiotic supplement appears to reduce damage caused by eating foods containing gluten, as well as accelerate healing after initiating a gluten-free diet.
So far, studies have been conducted in a simulated intestinal environment, using intestinal epithelial cells from a person with celiac disease. Researchers discovered that bifidobacterium lactis probiotic strains inhibited permeability caused by gliadin3. It is important to remember that this does not mean probiotics can replace a gluten-free diet as treatment for celiac disease, but, rather, that they are a helpful addition to a gluten-free diet.
When choosing a probiotic to help ease celiac disease, it is important to find one that is gluten free and has a high number of bacteria colony forming units (CFUs). There are many probiotic supplements on the market, but I recommend Vidazorb® chewable probiotics to my patients. Vidazorb® carries up to 10 billion CFU per tablet, delivering a therapeutic dose of live beneficial microorganisms with each intake.
Also, many over-the-counter probiotics use only one bacteria strain, in insufficient amounts, therefore not making an impact. The best products combine two to five key, researched bacteria strains‹strains such as Chr. Hansen¹s LA5® L. acidophilus and BB12® Bifidobacterium‹that work together to best provide health benefits. It’s important to find a supplement that works for you, but my patients tend to appreciate that Vidazorb® chewable tablets are easy to tolerate even when the stomach might feel queasy and that they don¹t need to be refrigerated, as most other probiotic supplements require.