Celiac Disease and Pancreas Disorders

Celiac disease can disrupt the hormones that interact with the pancreas, resulting in impaired digestion.  This article looks at the pancreas and how a gluten free diet solves the problem.

The pancreas is responsible for producing a number of enzymes that are essential to digestion.  This enzyme production is regulated by enzymes produced in the digestive tract.

Celiac disease disrupts this system.  Usually, the effects of celiac disease can be completely reversed by following a strict gluten free diet.

Pancreas Function

Normally, the pancreas produces several digestive enzymes as follows:

  • Amylase (breaks down starches)
  • Lipase (breaks down fats)
  • Trypsin (breaks down proteins)

This is in addition to the production of insulin and a number of other important enzymes and digestive juices.

The digestive substances produced by the pancreas is regulated by enzymes produced in the stomach and small intestine in response to the arrival of food.

The stomach produces gastrin and other enzymes which regulates the pancreas.

The small intestine produces secretin, CKK and other enzymes.

Celiac Disease Disrupts The Pancreas

If you have celiac disease and continue to eat gluten, the villi in your small intestine become damaged and destroyed.

This greatly reduces your body’s ability to produce secretin, CKK and other digestive enzymes. 

With a drastic reduction in the production of enzymes in the villi that regulate the pancreas, your digestive tract does not receive all of the digestive enzymes and chemicals it needs to digest your food properly.

As a result, the food you eat is not broken down properly.  This, combined with the gut’s impaired ability to absorb food, causes malabsorption.  As a result, your body is under-nourished.

Reversing Pancreas Problems in Celiacs

The long-term solution to getting pancreas operation back to normal is to go on a strict gluten free diet.  This reverses the damage caused by gluten to the celiac diseased gut.  The villi return to health and can once again produce the enzymes that regulate the pancreas.

While you are recovering, taking pancreatic enzymes to replace those missing from the normal digestive process can be extremely helpful. Talk to your doctor about this.

In a minority of cases, some people need to take pancreatic enzymes on a long-term basis.

What questions does this raise for you?

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