Celiac Constipation
and Possible Solutions

By Dr. Shrey Lakhotia, BDS
Celiac constipation

Celiac disease, which may result in celiac constipation, is a condition that creates inflammation and damage to the lining of the small intestine. 

It is caused by an autoimmune reaction of the body from consuming the protein gluten, which is contained in rye, barley and wheat.

As time passes, damage caused by inflammation is done to the lining of the small intestine. This hinders absorption of nutrients. When this happens, the nervous system, bones, liver and brain, as well as other important parts of the body, are starved of needed nutrients.

One in 133 Americans has Celiac disease and need to follow a gluten-free diet. The intestinal damage can cause weight loss, bloating and sometimes diarrhea.

Celiac Constipation - Celiac Disease Symptoms

People are affected by celiac disease in different ways. 

Celiac disease boasts more than 200 symptoms. However, many celiac patients don't have any symptoms. The reason is that their small intestine still has significant portions that haven't been damaged. This allows the intestines to absorb enough nutrition to keep symptoms from showing up. 

Though they have no symptoms, their celiac disease can still result in complications produced by the disease.

Ciliac symptoms in children

Children with celiac disease routinely exhibit the classic symptoms. These include chronic constipation or diarrhea, a failure to thrive, feelings of irritability and fatigue, and painful bloating. 

Ciliac symptoms in adults

For adults, their symptoms many times are not only limited to the digestive system. Studies now show that two thirds of adults having celiac disease don't have a problem with diarrhea.

Many celiac adults don't have a problem with unwanted weight loss. What is a normal symptom for adults is a deficiency of iron, an anemia that doesn't respond well to taking additional iron.

How Celiac Disease Causes Constipation

For someone with celiac disease, celiac antibodies damage the villi in the intestines. Villi are ultra small projections found on the walls of the intestines, whose job is to absorb nutrients from food as it passes by. 

This damage to villi means that the person isn't able to get as much nutrition from their food.

Under-digested food can cause constipation

With less absorption of nutrients, the food that makes its way through the intestines is under digested. Lower sections of intestine are not equipped to handle less digested food. This is especially true when it reaches the colon, whose job it is to convert it to extract moisture and convert it to stool.

Since the colon isn't equipped to extract nutrients, the result may be that it extracts too much water, causing stool to become hard and dry, and not easy to pass.

A lack of fiber can cause constipation

Another problem is that processed foods that are gluten free also contain very little fiber. These foods are made from things like tapioca or potato starch, or white rice flour.

This lack of fiber increases the chances of constipation.

serene scene for celiac constipation

Benefits of Supplemental Magnesium

Better digestion of nutrients

Celiac disease can cause digestive problems, including constipation. Even though medical science doesn’t have any cure for celiac disease, a person can minimize the symptoms by avoiding gluten. 

As noted above, celiac disease often results in malnutrition. Magnesium helps to facilitate the absorption of nutrients. A magnesium supplement can also be useful in celiac cases where constipation is a dominant symptom.

Magnesium may reverse celiac constipation 

Magnesium helps to relax the smooth muscle tissue in the colon, which may help with peristalsis, the wave-like motion of the colon that moves waste along. 

As an osmotic agent, magnesium helps to draw water into the colon, with the following effects.

  • Dry stool becomes moist, soft, slick and easier to pass
  • Moist stool is more bulky, which helps to trigger peristalsis.

Recommended source for supplemental magnesium

One noteworthy source of supplemental magnesium is a low sodium sea mineral supplement

Not only does it provide needed magnesium, but valuable trace minerals that are already in ionic form, readily absorbed by the body.

Note: It is best to speak with your doctor before starting on an over-the-counter remedy, including supplemental magnesium. It is possible that magnesium may interfere with some prescription drugs. Unless your doctor specifically asks you to, don't take a magnesium supplement if you have kidney disease.

(Return from Celiac Constipation to Causes of Constipation)

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