Living a Healthy Life With Celiac Disease
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Living a Healthy Life With Celiac Disease

Celiac disease explained and how the right foods can heal the damage done by celiac disease. A list of healthy foods you can safely eat if you have celiac disease.

Celiac disease can be a life-threatening disease and sometimes hard to diagnose or is misdiagnosed. But with proper diet you can actually heal the damage to your intestines from celiac disease and live a healthy life.

What is Celiac Disease?

Celiac disease is a disease of the digestive system that damages the small intestines and interferes with the body’s ability to absorb nutrition from food. This causes malnutrition among numerous other symptoms and problems. Celiac disease is usually genetic and affects 2 million Americans. It can affect as many as 1 in 22 Americans among people with a parent, sibling or child who has celiac disease. It is caused by the body’s abnormal reaction to anything containing gluten. When someone with celiac disease eats foods that contain gluten, their immune systems responds by damaging or destroying the villi of the small intestine. The villi are what allow the nutrients from food to be absorbed into the blood. Sometimes celiac disease is misdiagnosed because it resembles numerous other medical problems including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), ulcers, Crohns disease and even a parasitic infection.

Symptoms of celiac disease include:

  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Bloating
  • Intermittent diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Abdominal pain
  • Bone and joint pain
  • Arthritis
  • Iron-deficiency anemia that cannot be explained
  • Tingling and numbness in the hands and feet
  • Seizures
  • An itchy skin rash which is called dermatitis herpetiformis

One of the problems with celiac disease is that symptoms can go on for years before the person is properly diagnosed. Or it can go on for years because some people don’t get the above gastric symptoms. And the longer it goes on the more damage it does to the intestines and also the rest of the body due to the malnutrition because the body is not absorbing nutrients properly from food.

There is now more awareness about celiac disease and better tests are available. One of the ways a doctor can test for the disease is with a blood test. Testing the blood for higher than normal levels of what is called autoantibodies. Autoantibodies are proteins that react against the body’s own cells and tissues. There are other tests that can be done with the small intestine.

Treating Celiac Disease With Diet

I have talked to several people who have celiac disease and they are always very depressed and about to give up with their health and think they can never heal and get better. With further discussions with every person I found that they actually never would stick to the proper diet. They would for a while and then start eating the wrong foods again. In order to live a healthy life and heal your intestines and body, you have to strictly follow the proper diet the rest of your life. The most important part of your new diet is to avoid anything containing gluten, and that is hard to do. Behind sugar, gluten is the second most prevalent food in the western diet. Being strict with your new diet will heal the small intestines but even the smallest amount of gluten will cause the intestinal damage to start again.

Even people who follow a strict no-gluten diet will sometimes feel bad again; this is usually because they had something that contained gluten. You have to pay close attention for the hidden gluten as well as the obvious. It also seems more people are becoming gluten intolerant or allergic to gluten. Thankfully the US government in 2006 passed a food labeling law that requires all food labels to identify wheat and other commonly known allergens. The government is finalizing The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) and will set the rules for products with the label “gluten-free” on the package. Even with vitamins and supplements you have to be careful, you can now read on their labels if they are gluten-free.

Here is a list of safe gluten-free foods you can eat.

Amaranth Millet Sorghum
Arrowroot Nuts Soy
Buckwheat Potatoes Tapioca
Cassava Sweet potatoes Teff
Corn Yams Wild rice
Flax Quinoa Yucca
indian rice grass Rice All green and yellow vegetables
Job's tears Sago All fruits
Legumes, peas. lentils Seeds ** Oats

** Oats have been demonstrated to be free of toxic proteins and tolerated by most but not all people with celiac disease. There is still the concern that commercial oat products are contaminated with wheat. If you follow a strict diet and still feel bad, it could be something containing oats.

Learn everything you can about cooking, diet and foods and what they contain. There are many new gluten-free recipe books out now that you can learn from. Going out to eat will be something you will learn about as will eating processed foods, you always have to be aware of the hidden gluten. There might be lists of places to eat in your area that feature gluten-free dishes. This is a comprehensive list of safe gluten-free foods and here is a list of unsafe gluten-free foods. You can have a very healthy, tasty and rounded diet eating a strict gluten-free diet.

Gluten Free Spaghetti Dinner

If you miss having a nice pasta dinner because of celiac disease, there are new gluten free pastas on the market. Ancient Harvest has pasta that is made from quinoa and corn that is gluten free and organic.


Don’t look at your new diet with despair, embrace it as your new hobby and a way to heal your intestines and possibly cure your celiac disease as long as you eat a proper diet. By staying with this new way of eating, you can heal your intestines and rid yourself of the terrible feelings and damage that celiac disease can cause and start living a healthy life.

© 2009 Sam Montana


National Digestive Disease Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC)

Digestive Tune-Up by Dr. John McDougall, MD

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Comments (12)

Thank you Clairsie. I remember the first time I heard about celiac disease about 10 years ago on a message board, my first thought was how can anyone be allergic to bread and wheat, something that has been around thousands of years. Over the years I have read more and more about it. What I see more than celiac disease itself though is, more people are becoming gluten intolerant. Which means some type of allergic reaction to wheat. Last night on TV I saw an ad I’ve never seen before. There is a large pizza chain here called Beau Jos, and they are now heavily advertising their gluten free pizzas. Asthma and food allergies are increasing fast, especially among children and I am convinced we need to stop messing with our food supply. That is why I am against companies like Monsanto and their weird science seeds and the GMO foods. We need to get back to growing and eating real food again. I found it very positive that something as simple as diet can actually reverse and heal the damage celiac disease causes. I couldn’t stress enough though that people really have to take care and be strict about their diet to keep the disease from causing more damage.

I learned much from this informative article. I have a problem with yeast, so I am always searching out yeast-free food.Trader Joes and other healthy grocers carry a nice selection of yeast-free and also gluten-free food. In fact, I've seen the number of products grow in recent months; in some stores, there are even gluten-free sections. Perhaps the ease of buying gluten-free products will help people stick to their diets.

Thats what concerns me about the labaleing. Can they be labled? With pollen blowing and birds carrying seeds, do they really know anymore. Thats why I believe a healthy diet can help in so many ways, the fact that diet alone heals the celiac disease damage is proof how important our diet is and the of course the food our diets consist of.

great article, great discussion! The less processing of our food the better. More of us should enjoy growing our own...Sam has some great tips for that. I'm not sure where I stand on the frankenstien food...altough I think that term is really cool...leave it to you clairsie! I heard of genetically altered salmon that could be raised in tanks...I liked the idea of fish with no exposure to mercury or other pollutants, and figured DNA digests the same way no matter the different arrangements...hmmmm, I dunno

The old argument about genetically altering food is that they have been doing that with tomatoes for a long time. Yes in a way, but its been tomato genes into another type of tomato. The GMO Monsanto type foods are altered with their own built in pesticides and herbicides. So the seed has its own pesticide in the plant already, but they also need heavy outside spraying. Monsanto even has what is called terminator seeds, meaning the plants they grow are sterile, which means no seed saving, always having to buy new seeds from guess who, Monsanto and those few worldwide seed companies. There have also been experiments with fish genes into plants and seeds, nothing commercial yet as far as I know. Much of this I wrote in GMO foods – Greed before health. With the increase in so many of these digestive and allergic disorders and we are what we eat, I don’t like the idea of eating these types of plants from these strange seeds. I didn’t know they altered salmon so they could be raised in fish farms, the fear of mercury does keep a lot of people from eating fish anymore.

Sy, I have also noticed a larger gluten-free section at the store. I just went to the Denver Public Library web page and counted 54 books with gluten-free in the title, many of them brand new.

Heard about Celiac disease this past year because a member of the Church niece was diagnosed with it. However, I still was unable to understand it. I knew it was serious. Your article provided information that gave me a better understanding.

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[...] Living a healthy life with celiac disease – view page – cached What exactly celiac disease is and what the symptoms are.. How celiac disease damages the body and how diet can heal the damage and stop the disease and. A list of safe gluten-free foods you can for a healthy diet. — From the page [...]

I'd never heard of this disease before. Thanks for the highly informative article.

Meagan Earls

I have a gluten intolerance and I have been 100% gluten-free since December of 2009. My health has improved considerably!

Now, before I went 100% gluten-free in December of '09 I did a kind "gluten-free diet" that was filled with me going: "well this doesn't have very much gluten in it, it will be fine..." or "I'll have gluten today, but I won't have it again after this..." from about October '09 to December, and all it did to me was show me why I really needed to 100% GF. Every time I would "cheat," boy would I suffer! I think it was even amplified because my body wasn't used to feeling sick all the time anymore, so I would just... suffer. (There's no better word to describe it, I don't think.)

My advice to anyone who is going gluten-free (whether its for an allergy, an intolerance, Celiac, or some other medical reason) is to connect with other gluten-free people and groups online... and do your research. There are tons of great recipes online as well as stores that sell gluten-free foods, restaurant guides, and gluten-free forums, where you can talk about all your issues. Oh... AND DON'T CHEAT!!! If you are supposed to be going gluten-free for your health, don't cheat! Every bit of gluten is hurting you and could even be helping to kill you. Trust me, in time, your body will feel great and your cravings for food with gluten will get smaller and smaller and less and less frequent. But you just can't cheat.

Thanks for sharing this very important information for the online world to see. This article will be very helpful to people with gluten problems or people who know people with gluten problems. :)

Peace and Love,


(PonchoMeg: The Modern Bohemian)

GF Chick since Dec. '09


There can be emotional side-affects to too much gluten in the diet, it seems. Notice I said, "it seems." See my blog on December 14, 2010 about the emotional side-affects my friend and I have encountered.

Very informative article