What is Celiac Disease?

People with celiac disease are suffering from a life-long hereditary gluten-sensitivity which makes it impossible for them to eat anything containing gluten (a protein found in certain cereals). The ingestion of gluten triggers an autoimmune reaction in the small intestine, causing tissue structures called "villi" to degenerate as well as severe intestinal inflammation. The body becomes unable to adequately break down and absorb all the foods and nutrients, which - if untreated - can eventually lead to malnourishment and other health risks.

Common symptoms of Cealiac Disease

Abdominal pain
Unintended weight loss
Dermatitis Herpetiformis (itchy skin rashes)
Joint pain
Osteoporosis (loss of bone mass)
Osteopenia (softening of bone mass)

Complications of Cealiac Disease



If celiac disease remains undiagnosed or untreated a series of health complications can be the result:

  • Malnutrition
  • Loss of calcium and bone mass
  • Infertility in women and elevated risk for miscarriage
  • Elevated risk for developing food intolerances like lactose intolerance
  • Neurological disorders
  • Delayed physical and mental development in children
  • Arthritis
  • Anemia

Health consequences that especially concern children include:

  • Delayed growth/short stature
  • Delayed puberty
  • Learning disability
  • Lack of muscle growth
  • Dermatitis herpetiformis (itchy skin rash)


Celiac disease can be determined with two blood tests.

1. The serological test: An antibody-based test
2. The genetic test: An DNA-based test

If indications for celiac disease are present, an endoscopy of the small intestine and a biopsy (tissue sample) are further conducted.

Side note: Do not start a gluten-free diet before testing for celiac disease. The elimination of gluten from your diet beforehand may alter the results from your test.

"The best and most efficient pharmacy is within your own system."

- Robert C. Peale -

Ways to manage
Celiac Disease

Currently the only effective treatment of celiac disease is a strict lifelong gluten-free diet.

There are no medical or surgical measures to directly cure this disorder, yet there are different ways to treat the symptoms that come with it.


Switch to a gluten free diet

For most people affected, following a strict gluten-free diet can help them to effectively control the symptoms to encourage intestinal healing processes. It is very important to work closely with your professional health practitioner and dietician when planning your proper gluten-free diet in order to treat celiac disease since even trace amounts of gluten can have damaging effects on the intestinal tract.


Foods that contain gluten and need to be eliminated completely from your diet include:

  • Wheat
  • Rye
  • Graham flour
  • Bulgur
  • Barley
  • Durum
  • Malt
  • Spelt
  • Triticale
  • Semolina

Foods that contain no gluten include:

  • Fresh meats, fish and poultry
  • Rice
  • Corn
  • Most dairy products
  • Flours made from rice, soy, potato, bean or corn)
  • Amaranth, quinoa, buckwheat
  • Tapioca starch
  • Cornmeal
  • All fruits and vegetables


Note: Oats can be tricky when it comes to a gluten-free diet since during processing a contamination with wheat can occur. Even though some people with celiac disease are able to tolerate pure oats, it is generally recommended to avoid them unless specifically labeled gluten-free.

Start reading labels

When dealing with gluten intolerance you will quickly realize that there are many food products that contain hidden gluten. Processed food items made with modified starches, certain preservatives and food stabilizers should be closely payed attention to. Nowadays most food labels indicate whether the product contains gluten or not, making it easier for gluten intolerant people to shop for groceries.

When eating out, it is vital to make sure that the dishes you order are made without any gluten-containing ingredients. Ask the waiter or waitress or the chef for information concerning food items on their menu and tell them about your condition.


Other foods and drinks that contain gluten that may surprise you include:


  • Beer 
  • Breaded or battered foods
  • Artificial coffee creamer
  • Bouillon cubes and gravies
  • Soy sauce
  • Ice cream
  • Couscous


Food products that often contain gluten as a food additive for thickening and/or stabilizing purposes:

  • Sauces/Dressings
  • Instant or prepackaged soups
  • Vegan products (e.g. imitation meats or seafood)
  • Desserts like pudding
  • Condiments like ketchup and mayonnaise
  • Ice cream


Eating a gluten-free diet

After few weeks of cutting out gluten from your diet plan, first improvements will usually occur.

You will start feeling a lot better, symptoms will start to subside and the villi of your intestinal tract will begin to heal. Complete regeneration of the villi can take several weeks to years. The process tends to proceed more quickly in children than adults.



Correct Any Nutrient Deficiencies

Provide your body with enough vitamins and minerals.

Celiac disease can cause significant nutrient deficiencies, thus making it necessary to adequately refill your body’s vitamin and mineral storage and to prevent further health complications caused by malnutrition.

Vitamins and minerals that are especially lacking in people with CD include:

  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • Folate
  • Vitamin B12
  • Zinc
  • Vitamin K


The Leaky Gut Syndrome

The exposure to gluten in people with CD results in inflammatory responses in the bowel system. This can disrupt the structure and permeability of the intestinal wall. Normally a healthy gut is able to hold foreign particles back, restraining them from entering our bloodstream.
Yet certain food sensitivities can cause this defense system to break down. This process is referred to as “Leaky gut syndrome”. Once fully developed, a “leaky gut” can interfere with your immune system by making you more susceptible to food sensitivities or allergies and systemic infectious illnesses.