Is Your Bread Habit Risking Your Heart?

Did you know that for millions of people, bread can be a potentially deadly food that doubles their chances of having a heart attack? You may be wondering if you are part of this unlucky group. The answer lies in whether you have celiac disease, an autoimmune sensitivity to gluten found in wheat, rye, and barley. According to research at the Cleveland Clinic, if you suffer from celiac, consuming bread puts you at serious risk for heart disease.

Alarmingly, it is estimated that about 1% of Americans have celiac, which adds up to almost 3 million people who may be unknowingly risking cardiovascular disease by eating bread. The majority of these individuals are not even aware that they have this autoimmune sensitivity. If you are concerned about whether you might have celiac, it’s essential to know the symptoms and how to manage the condition effectively.

Identifying Celiac Disease

Celiac disease can be challenging to diagnose, as it often presents with symptoms that could be attributed to other conditions. Common symptoms of celiac disease include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating and gas
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability and mood changes
  • Joint pain
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Anemia
  • Skin rashes

If you experience any of these symptoms, especially after consuming gluten-containing foods, it’s crucial to consult your doctor. They can perform specific blood tests to determine if you have celiac disease. If these tests are positive, your doctor may also recommend a biopsy of your small intestine to confirm the diagnosis.

The Connection Between Celiac Disease and Heart Disease

But why are individuals with celiac disease at a higher risk for heart disease? As explained by researcher R.D. Gajulapalli, M.D., a clinical associate at the Cleveland Clinic, “People with celiac disease have some persistent low-grade inflammation in the gut that can spill immune mediators into the bloodstream, which can then accelerate the process of atherosclerosis and, in turn, coronary artery disease.”

In a 14-year study at the Cleveland Clinic, it was found that 9.5% of people with celiac disease experienced coronary artery disease, compared to only 5.6% of people without celiac disease. These findings reinforce the idea that chronic inflammation, whether from an infection or a disease like celiac, can negatively impact coronary artery disease and heart health in general.

Living with Celiac Disease

So, what can you do if you have celiac disease? The answer is relatively straightforward: Eliminate gluten from your diet as much as possible. This means avoiding foods containing wheat, rye, and barley, which are common in bread, pasta, sauces, and various processed foods. Fortunately, with the rising awareness of celiac disease, many gluten-free alternatives are now available in grocery stores and restaurants, making it easier for those with celiac to maintain a gluten-free lifestyle.

In addition to managing your diet, it’s essential to work closely with your healthcare team to monitor your health and keep an eye on any signs of inflammation or potential cardiovascular issues. Regular blood tests can help track inflammation markers, and your doctor may recommend supplements or medications to help manage any deficiencies or symptoms that arise due to celiac disease.

Gaining Knowledge for Better Heart Health

Whether or not you have celiac disease, understanding the impact of gluten on your body is vital for maintaining a healthy heart. For those with celiac, eliminating gluten from your diet and managing inflammation can significantly reduce your risk of heart disease. And for those without celiac, it’s still important to be aware of the potential risks and make healthier dietary choices overall.

For further information on celiac disease, heart health, and how to maintain a gluten-free lifestyle, you can visit reputable health websites like The Celiac Disease Foundation, The American Heart Association, and The Gluten Intolerance Group.