Going gluten-free is the only treatment for celiac disease.
Once you have been diagnosed with celiac disease, the first step is immediately adopting a gluten-free diet. This is imperative if you want to halt any painful symptoms and begin to heal the small intestine.
If a completely gluten-free diet is adopted, symptoms can resolve in as quickly as a few days. Healing the small intestine can happen as quickly as six months – but may take longer than that depending on how much damage has been done. If you have been suffering from celiac disease for years, it may take as long for the small intestine to recuperate. Once this happens, though, the body can properly absorb nutrients and symptoms will start to dissipate.
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Eliminate Gluten – Feel Better
Unfortunately, there is no cure for celiac disease.
That being said, a gluten-free diet most commonly resolves the issues. The absence of gluten in the diet allows the villi in the small intestine to regrow. Once regrown, the body is able to absorb nutrients from food as normal. This allows painful symptoms to clear up and for the person to feel much better.
We want to emphasize that a person with celiac disease must be 100% completely gluten free for the rest of their life. That’s a big commitment, but the absence of gluten in the diet of a person with celiac disease can make an incredible, life-changing improvement.
But, it’s important to know that if gluten is consumed again, even a tiny amount, this can cause damage to the small intestine and symptoms can reappear.
Obviously, adopting a lifelong gluten-free lifestyle can be intimidating at first. It is recommended to work closely with a registered dietitian or nutritionist in the beginning stages.
This ensures that you learn the ins-and-outs of a gluten-free lifestyle. This includes how to read ingredient labels, go grocery shopping, order at restaurants, meal plan, and eat a well-balanced, gluten-free diet.
Hidden Sources of Gluten
There are many sneaky places gluten can hide that you’ll want to learn about as well. These include things such as:
- Lip care products
Sometimes, products that we use in everyday life can contain gluten. Although these are things to be eaten, it can still cause a reaction in the body if it’s used.
- Hair care products
- Skin care products
If Symptoms Don’t Improve…
If you adopt a gluten-free diet, and symptoms don’t seem to be improving, you may want to closely examine the non-food items that you have in your daily rotation. Be sure to read labels closely and thoroughly, and if there is any question, it’s better to go without than to risk it.
There’s also the issue of cross-contamination. Sometimes, naturally gluten-free foods, such as rice and corn products, are made in factories that also produce wheat products. Because of the close proximity, these foods can become contaminated with gluten. Even that tiny bit of cross-contamination can cause issues in your body.
According to Medline Plus, some people will not heal while following a strict gluten-free diet. In these rare cases, the person may have a condition known as refractory celiac disease. This occurs when the intestinal tract is so damaged that it can’t heal. People with refractory celiac disease must receive their nutrients through an IV since their small intestine cannot absorb nutrients from food.
This is the “treatment” section of our celiac guide series. Check out the other installments below:
- The Ultimate Guide to Celiac Disease
- Symptoms of Celiac Disease
- Testing for Celiac Disease
- Celiac Disease & Your Diet
- Awareness of Celiac Disease
- Celiac Disease & Our Anatomy
- Celiac Disease & Weight Gain
- Celiac Disease & Alcohol
- Celiac Disease FAQ
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