Celiac Disease 101 – A Beginner’s Guide to Healing


Celiac disease has many unspoken horrible truths…

One of them is this: It takes on average 4 years to get a Celiac disease diagnosis, and the research often shows that over 2 years later most patients are still not healed and typically suffering, even though they’re eating a strict gluten-free diet. This article is an attempt to change that, to give you your power back and actually help you get back to a healthy life.

This guide was written for you, the diagnosed Celiac disease sufferer, to explain what’s happening in your body, what this means for your future, and how you can heal from this disease.

Is Leaky Gut Making You Sicker?


It’s intended to fill in the gaps your doctor likely didn’t tell you (and beware… there’s so many it’s almost criminal).

I wrote this because Jordan Reasoner, my best friend, had to fight for 3 years to get a diagnosis, and afterwards all he received was a small package telling him to eat a gluten-free diet and he’d be okay.

But he wasn’t…

Two years after following the gluten-free diet with cult-like strictness… he was even closer to dying. It wasn’t working and the doctors threw up their hands and said:

“You’re obviously cheating on the diet and we can’t help you any more.”

Sadly, this is now the norm in our current medical system – undereducated and under-resourced doctors blaming and misinforming patients about what it actually takes to heal from Celiac disease and what the risks of this disease mean for your life.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Jordan’s healed and happy now, and we’ve since helped thousands of other Celiac disease victims who’ve gone through the same struggle – and helped them recover their health just like him.

But I’m still pissed off, so I’m writing this…

My goal is to help you avoid ongoing pain – to understand your health risks – and to learn how to return to a normal healthy life if you choose.

Spoiler Alert! Another horrible truth most people with Celiac disease discover too late: the gluten-free diet on its own isn’t enough to heal — more specifics on this later.

How to Use This Comprehensive Celiac Disease Guide

This guide is all-inclusive, which means this will take you about 15 minutes to read. And since I don’t know how educated you are, we’ve put together a table of contents so you can skip to the most important parts for you:

What is Celiac Disease?
Signs, Symptoms and Prevalence
The Dangerous Risks of Untreated Celiac
Celiac Disease vs. Gluten Intolerance
From Gluten Senstive to Full-Blown Celiac
Simplifying the Toxicity of Gluten
Testing for Celiac and Gluten Intolerance
4 Tests for Celiac and Gluten Intolerance
Conventional Celiac Treatment
3 Epic Failures of Conventional Treatment
How Autoimmune Disease Develops
4 Steps for Root-Cause Healing

I hope you’ll leave a comment or share this with others – it’s our hope that we can save the lives of many with this article.

What is Celiac Disease?


Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that causes damage to the small intestine, which leads to systemic inflammation, nutrient malabsorption and many other significant health issues. An autoimmune condition is a condition in which your immune system gets confused and, instead of fighting off foreign invaders, it begins to attack you.

The part of the small intestine that gets most damaged is usually the villi. These are little shag carpet-like projections inside the small intestine and are vital to our health. They increase the surface area of the small intestine, give off digestive enzymes and help collect and absorb nutrients.

During the progression of Celiac disease, the villi go from vital strands to flattened and broken. This is bad news for our health.

Since it’s an autoimmune disease, that means there’s a trigger or environmental reason that creates the inflammation, immune dysregulation and subsequent problems.

The environmental trigger for Celiac disease is thought to be only gluten, which is why there’s such a focus on gluten-free foods. But, sadly, this focus on only gluten is harming most Celiacs and, in my opinion, actually killing some of them. More on this later.

Signs, Symptoms and Prevalence of Celiac Disease

Another horrible truth of Celiac disease is that while the damage does happen in the gut, only 40% of children and 60% of adults report any digestion-related symptoms.

This is one of the more frustrating parts of Celiac disease – it can cause problems all over our body. This is thought to be one of the reasons why the vast majority of Celiac disease sufferers (83%97%) remain undiagnosed.

Most people have multiple issues from the list below — how many do you have?

Common Signs and Symptoms of Celiac Disease:

  • Diarrhea
  • Gas
  • Bloating and Cramping
  • Constipation
  • Stomach Pain
  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • Anemia
  • Fatigue
  • Joint and Bone Pain (arthritis)
  • Skin Rashes
  • Headaches and Migraines
  • Numb Hands and Feet
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Canker Sores
  • Unexplained Weight Loss or Gain
  • Malnutrition
  • Brain Fog
  • ADHD
  • Acid Reflux (GERD)
  • Teeth and Gum Problems

What’s really sad about this list is the number of people who are suffering. A 2012 research study estimates about 0.71% of Americans have Celiac disease (3 Million total), meaning if you or someone in your family doesn’t have Celiac someone you know does.

Most experts now believe that number is closer to 1%, which is roughly the same prevalence found around the world, including Europe and Italy.

The risks of having Celiac disease don’t just stop with the symptom list above. Remember, a large percentage (up to 60%) don’t perceive they’re sick, which is scary when you look at how Celiac disease sets you up for lots of other health issues.

The Dangerous Risks Of Untreated Celiac Disease

Those with CD and intestinal inflammation have a 72% increased risk of death

Often, there’s some major denial when being diagnosed with a serious disease like Celiac. And that’s totally normal, but I want to encourage you to not wait too long to take serious action towards healing.

Because if you do ignore, deny, or fail to check your healing progress, you will most likely end up among one (or many) of these scary statistics:

  • Other autoimmune disorders: Celiacs are 8+ times more likely to develop another autoimmune disease.
  • Developing Osteoporosis:Celiac disease is 17 times more prevalent among the osteoporotic population.
  • Having infertility issues: Celiac disease is 2.86 times more common in infertile women.
  • Experiencing neurological conditions: Patients with CD are 2.58 times more prone to be stricken with neurological disorders.
  • Cancer Risk: Celiac patients have a 2.44x increased risk of developing all cancers (and it rises the older you are) but GI cancer risk is much higher!
  • Death Risk: Celiac patients’ risk of mortality rises extremely fast, even if you are “asymptomatic” (meaning you don’t feel it). For those with full villous atrophy, there’s a 2.88x increased risk of death in the first year after diagnosis. And those with intestinal inflammation but not full villous atrophy had a 4.66x increased risk of death in the first year.

In other words, if you’re a symptom-free Celiac and your labs show signs of gut inflammation… you’re still at significant risk of health complications and early death.

Look, I’m not trying to scare you, I just want you to be a fully-informed patient – the kind of patient that can make the best choices for their bodies and lives, not one whose power is in the hands of a doctor (who frankly doesn’t have the time and attention to have that kind of power to begin with).

And it all starts by facing the (sometimes brutal) realities of life.

But don’t worry… the above scenarios don’t have to become your reality… In fact, I’m giving you the steps to avoid joining those statistics (like MOST Celiacs), and instead properly heal.

The Difference Between Celiac Disease & Gluten Intolerance

A minimum of 18 million Americans have non-celiac gluten sensitivity

It’s not like you just woke up one day and suddenly “caught” Celiac disease. Instead, you’ve been progressively getting sicker and the amount of damage inside your body has been slowly building…

Which is the core difference between you and those who are suffering from gluten intolerance, or what’s also called Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity (NCGS). The University of Maryland currently reports about 18 Million Americans (6% of U.S. population) have this condition.

However, this is the lowest estimate of affected people…

Dr. Alessio Fasano, Director of the Center of Celiac Research, has repeatedly said,

“All humans lack the enzymes required to break down gluten.”

And now, new studies are coming out that propose mechanisms to support this statement, meaning the actual number of people with gluten-related problems could be well into the 100’s of Millions. It’s worth noting that just because it’s extremely hard to digest it doesn’t mean everyone has a gluten issue.

Those with gluten intolerance can experience all the same symptoms listed above for Celiacs, like diarrhea or constipation, hives, brain fog, bloating, and headaches.

Like Celiac disease, gluten sensitivity is a condition in which the immune system is activated by gluten, causing inflammation and intestinal permeability. But the immune system is not attacking the lining of the small intestine, like it is in Celiac disease.

So, the main difference between gluten intolerance and Celiac disease is in the way the immune system is reacting to gluten and gliadin. But let’s be clear, in both cases there is an immune response to wheat.

The immune response of a NCGS person is not directed at the human tissue… it’s directed at the environmental trigger.

However, leading Celiac disease experts, like Dr. Tom O’Bryan, believe that Celiac disease isn’t like a light switch… it doesn’t just turn on or off. They believe that even those with NCGS have some immune cells attacking the human tissue but at too low of a level for our current medical tests to detect.

And after months or years of this “silent” attack, the immune response begins to grow in severity until it’s finally detectable by our current laboratory tests.

With that being said, if you are gluten intolerant, the advice of this article is just as relevant for you as it is to a diagnosed Celiac disease person.

Going From Gluten Sensitive to Full-Blown Celiac Disease

Many Celiacs don’t actually get diagnosed with full-blown Celiac disease until later in their lives (20s, 30s, 40s, 50s and beyond)… which is fascinating and usually confusing when it all happens. At this point, they may wonder if they were gluten intolerant that whole time?

Let’s explore how Celiac disease develops and what role gluten intolerance plays in it — as we do remember the difference between the two is mainly in how dysregulated the immune system is.

There’s two main sides to the immune system – the innate and the adaptive. Each has a large role in keeping us healthy.

In gluten sensitivity, both are thought to actively attack gluten and other molecules that are getting into your bloodstream because of a leaky gut (more on what this is later).

In Celiac disease, the adaptive side goes haywire and begins to attack your gut cells thinking they too are foreign molecules that should be destroyed. This is the autoimmune component of the disease.

Simplifying the Toxicity of Gluten

Cartoon simplifying gluten into endosperm, bran and germ

In both gluten sensitivity and Celiac disease, the damage and discomfort is driven by gluten and avoiding it is critical for healing. But it is hard to avoid something you don’t understand. We need to know what exactly gluten is and how we can avoid it.

You probably already know this, but gluten is a protein found in barley, rye and wheat.

Here is what you probably don’t know: plants don’t want to be eaten by you. In fact, they have a complex series of defense mechanisms to prevent humans and other animals from eating them.

One of these defense mechanisms are toxic proteins, called prolamins, contained in virtually all cereal grains (gluten-free or not). And gluten happens to harbor one of the most toxic prolamins – gliadin -and it is this gliadin in gluten that causes the damage.

Gliadin even inflames the gut of healthy individuals. But for those with gluten sensitivity or a genetic predisposition to Celiac disease, the damage is far worse.

When a person with the genetics for Celiac disease eats a bagel, a bowl of pasta, or anything else containing gluten, damage occurs in a few ways:

  1. Gut Inflammation – The human gut (and the gut of many other animals) has a very hard time breaking down the proteins like gliadin in gluten. The immune system actually attacks the particles, which also causes damage to healthy tissue, increasing gut inflammation.
  2. Leaky Gut – Gliadin triggers an increase in zonulin levels, causing intestinal permeability. Zonulin is a “gatekeeper” protein in the human gut that controls the tight junctions of the gut (where nutrients pass out of the gut and into the bloodstream). When zonulin levels increase, the tight junctions open up wider and allow the larger gliadin molecules to pass into the bloodstream – and create a leaky gut.
  3. Autoimmune Reaction – Gliadin gets through the gut wall and begins to cross-link with an enzyme called Tissue Transglutaminase (tTG). This is a repair enzyme released to fix gut cells (enterocytes) that are damaged when ingesting gliadin. This cross-linking triggers production of antibodies that attack enterocytes, causing ongoing autoimmune destruction.

The increase in zonulin (and resulting widening of the tight junctions) leads to the development of a leaky gut.

It’s worth noting that there are actually at least 19 triggers of leaky gut – gluten is just one of them.

Free Leaky Gut Presentation: Click here to learn the 19 common triggers of leaky gut and how to heal from them.

So, in short, prolamins are defense proteins found in plants. Gluten is just one of several types of prolamins and contains a specifically toxic part called gliadin. In general, while wheat, rye and barley are thought to be the worst offenders for Celiacs, once the damage has begun, any prolamin – whether from a grain or pseudograin – can be problematic.

With that said, let’s talk about how to actually confirm you have Celiac disease.

Testing for Celiac Disease and Gluten Intolerance

There’s a lot of confusion around the testing and diagnosis of Celiac disease and for good measure, which is why, on average, it takes a Celiac 4 years to get the proper diagnosis. Frankly, this is pathetic and downright sad. I believe patients can speed up this process by being more educated than their doctors on the subject.

Technically, a Celiac disease diagnosis is determined based upon histologic demonstration with supporting criteria, meaning that there’s no one “perfect” test to diagnose the disease.

What’s going on is doctors are looking for a specific amount of damage to your small intestine and backing it up with test results to confirm you have the risk factors for the disease.

In more simple terms, that means when gluten intolerance crosses a small-intestine-damage threshold and autoimmune risk factors are confirmed via lab tests or autoimmune markers are actually observed on your lab work… then you officially have the diagnosis of Celiac disease.

4 Tests for Celiac Disease and Gluten Intolerance

Since there’s so much confusion around the testing here…

Let’s break the tests into 3 categories:

  1. Supportive
  2. Autoimmune
  3. Damage

1.) Supportive Tests – Typically, these are tests that that are the easiest and cheapest to run. They provide supporting evidence for risk of Celiac disease or Gluten sensitivity.

An example of a supportive test, would be getting a genetic test to check for Celiac disease genes. You can do a serum lab test or even 23andme.com testing to figure this out (meaning you don’t need to wait for your doctor to do this testing).

2.) Autoimmune Tests – These are tests used to check for and measure the level of immune system dysregulation going on in your body. There is a major drawback with these tests, though, you’ll need to have eaten gluten in the last 2-3 months to get an accurate result.

A blood test called a tTg-IgA test (Tissue Transglutaminase Test), which looks for antibodies in your blood towards gluten, is the oldest and cheapest test. However, this means there are some big drawbacks to it, including possibilities of false negatives and a positive result might mean you have something other than Celiac disease!

Bottom line for the tTg-IgA test: If you are positive or negative, it doesn’t mean you DO or DON’T have Celiac disease.

The most advanced blood test on the market, Cyrex Array 3, is the first one to check your immune reactivity to all parts of gluten, gliadin and other parts transglutaminase. This test, while still pretty new to the market, is the first of its kind to take a holistic approach in checking for wheat sensitivity. It’s currently the best option of the autoimmune tests.

3.) Damage Tests – These tests are the last step – they’re the most expensive and intrusive. However, at this time, in order to get an “official” Celiac diagnosis from a doctor, this test is the last piece of the puzzle.

It’s called an endoscopic biopsy (small intestine biopsy), and it’s where doctors actually go in and remove a part of your intestine and look at it under the microscope to check the damage. Hopefully, in the future, new testing will be developed that won’t be so invasive to the body.

In conclusion, the best approach for obtaining a proper diagnosis is to first get your genetics checked. Then, get a Cyrex Array 3. And if both are positive, get an endoscopic biopsy. If you get a positive test result from the endoscopy, it’s a big red flag you’ve had this condition for a long time and you’re likely going to need to take your healing process very seriously.

Feeling better after gluten removal isn’t enough to be diagnosed as Celiac, but it’s a really good sign that you’re AT LEAST gluten intolerant. And based on the several Cyrex Array 3 tests I’ve seen, you’d turn up plenty of positives there.

Conventional Celiac Disease Treatment

After you finally get your diagnosis, which will typically take you 4 years or longer, your conventional medical doctor will probably tell you this…

Adopting a strict gluten-free diet is the only known treatment for those with gluten-related disorders.” – From the Celiac Disease Foundation

At first, just making this change seems so hard and sometimes impossible, especially giving up those treasured foods you may have grown up with. But the majority of Celiacs I’ve talked to finally make the change and begin to live the gluten-free lifestyle.

And they end up loving this new lifestyle because they feel so much better than before.

But most end up hitting a glass ceiling of healing. In other words, their really painful symptoms might decrease or mostly go away but they don’t get the energy, skin, hair, weight regulation and dependable brain and digestion they are really wanting.

And it’s NOT their fault or your fault.

You’re being told to follow a treatment that has abysmal results in actually healing Celiac disease.

I know, this is hard to believe but I’ll prove it with scientific studies in the next section.

3 Epic Failures of Conventional Celiac Treatment

After 2 years on the gluten-free diet, your chances of fully healing your intestines are between 8% and 34%.

2 years of effort for way worse than a coin’s flip chance at healing!

But it only gets worse…

The intestinal leakiness of Celiacs who’d been off gluten for 2 years was found to be 3x more leaky than controls.

WAIT! You might think, “What about those who get symptom-free on a gluten-free diet? Doesn’t that mean all is okay?”


This study and this study looked at inflammation levels in “symptom-free” Celiacs and found significant amounts of inflammation, compared to control subjects.

And it gets even worse, 18 of 30 Celiacs who had been gluten free for 8-12 years, with biopsy-proven health, had poor vitamin status (malnourishment).

In other words, the gluten-free diet can help you get symptom-free, even repair your villi (proven by biopsy), but it’s unlikely you’ll also repair leaky gut syndrome, reduce inflammation to normal amounts and replace lost nutrients from the malabsorption the disease causes.

It’s time to treat Celiac holistically and use strategies to address the known issues. Yes, you need to avoid the environmental trigger (gluten). But it’s clear that if that’s all you do… well, remember those scary associated conditions like brain, fertility and cancer?

…the Gluten free diet leaves you vulnerable to all of them.

How Autoimmune Disease Develops (and Why This Gives You Hope)

Dr. Alessio Fasano

In 2011, Celiac researcher and doctor, Alessio Fasano released his groundbreaking paper, “Leaky Gut and Autoimmune Diseases.” Fasano proposed that this autoimmune attack could actually be stopped!

This is really good news… because, up until this point, it was assumed that once the autoimmune process starts, it’s just going to continue attacking your body for the rest of your life.

But Fasano’s latest research, conducted over several years, has shown that it is indeed possible to stop the attack on the body’s own tissues and usually repair the damage that has happened (if it’s not too beat up).

Fasano’s Theory of Autoimmunity Development Requires 3 Factors:

  1. A genetic predisposition to autoimmunity (for Celiac disease that’s the HLA DQ2/DQ8 genes)
  2. Exposure to an environmental trigger (for Celiac disease – gluten)
  3. Increased intestinal permeability (a.k.a. Leaky Gut Syndrome)

According to Fasano, when all three of these factors are simultaneously present, autoimmunity develops. This means if you have Celiac or another autoimmune condition, you had to have a leaky gut at the time it started (and it’s likely you still might).

So, this theory finally explains how you could have the genetics for Celiac disease yet remained mostly healthy your whole life. And then BAM! You have a mid-life crisis at 46 that triggers leaky gut, you’re eating gluten and “all of a sudden”you have a full-blown autoimmune disease.


However, there is a silver lining to all of this!

If having a leaky gut is the final factor that allows autoimmune disease to develop, then autoimmune disease can be stopped and most people can heal the damage by fixing the intestinal permeability and removing the trigger (gluten).

This is a whole new way of thinking about Autoimmune disease – one that gives us the steps needed to actually heal the body, instead of becoming another untreated Celiac disease statistic.

It’s also why we now know that while removing gluten (the trigger) is the most important step… it’s not nearly enough to heal a leaky gut and stop the autoimmunity completely. There’s more work to be done before the process has been fully arrested.

Now can you see why the gluten-free diet as the “only treatment” for Celiac disease is just silly?

4 Steps for Root-Cause Healing of Celiac Disease

Jumping Women - You can heal from Celiac disease (and feel this good)

Here are the 4 steps you need to focus on to actually heal the destruction from Celiac disease. This plan actually takes into account all four of the problems shown in the research to be plaguing Celiac suffers.

This is the plan to heal a leaky gut and reverse the damage from years of untreated Celiac disease…

And it starts with removing gluten from your life. This is still a must!

Step 1 – Remove Gluten (from all food, products, etc.)

It’s time to throw away all the packaged or processed foods in your kitchen that don’t have a gluten-free label on them. There’s no reason to keep any old flour or foods, period. Don’t leave any room for temptation.

You also need to read the labels on any product you put on your skin – shampoo, moisturizer, lotion, chapstick, etc. Ideally, it’s best to think of your skin as a giant extension of your tongue and don’t put anything on it you wouldn’t eat! So, verify that all these products are gluten-free as well.

Next, take a close look at your kitchen hygiene. If there are gluten eaters in the house, you cannot use their non-stick pans (don’t use them, they are toxic), cutting boards, or kitchen utensils. It’s even best to avoid using the same counters. Yes, that is kind of dramatic feeling. But the truth is even trace amounts of gluten can harm you. And if you can’t be safe at home, where you are in control, where can you be?

When you do eat out, don’t be shy about letting your server know of the severity of your condition. To be fully prepared, it’s best to call ahead and verify they can guarantee no cross-contamination. If they can’t guarantee it, there’s a good chance that sooner or later they will serve you some gluten. Here’s a guide to help you eat out gluten-free.

Step 2 – Add Nutritious Foods

Gluten-free Cheerios crossed out

It’s clear, from the research, that you need more nutrients than most people and you need to do everything in your power to reduce inflammation.

And this means it’s time to add in some highly-nutritious foods to help replenish the nutrient depletions in your body and give it what it needs to heal. (It costs a lot of nutrients to heal!)

At the same time, these foods will be extremely anti-inflammatory.

It’s a double-whammy move to help you heal.

This means you’ll need to eat A LOT more meat and seafood. It means eating more vegetables, fruits, and naturally starchy foods (sweet potato, white potato, white rice, etc). It means eating more healthy fats, like avocado and coconut products.

And it means eliminating all grains and pseudograins (even “gluten-free” grains, like corn and oats). Why? Because these foods have their own “gluten-like” prolamins that wreak havoc in inflamed and damaged guts.

In order to make room for all these new unprocessed and delicious foods, you’ll be eating very little processed gluten-free foods, which will actually save you a bunch of money.

In our experience, the stricter you are to adhering to these rules, the faster you’re likely to heal and feel better.

Step 3 – Heal the Leaky Gut

While cutting out gluten is a pretty straightforward proposal, healing a leaky gut is more complex.

There are endless free tips online on how to heal your leaky gut (some of them are good but many are actually pretty bad), which is why we hired 3 researchers to look at the most current studies and help us figure out the best way to actually do it.

Then, we took these protocols and put them into practice and have seen nothing short of amazing results in 1000’s of people.

Bonus Presentation on Healing Autoimmunity: Sign up to learn how to heal leaky gut and stop autoimmune disease.

One of the first steps to heal a leaky gut is to avoid grains and pseudograins, the ones I told you about in the previous section. Eating the diet above is ideal for healing it.

Next up, you’ll want to try some proven gut-healing supplements, like L-Glutamine. It’s been shown to heal your intestinal mucosa and reduce leaky gut. Start at 2.5 g morning and evening and work up to 20 g morning and night, over two weeks. (Read our complete recommendations on L-Glutamine here.)

With that said, there are 19 triggers of leaky gut and many other helpful supplements out there.

And that’s why we created the bonus webinar above. Those 90 minutes could be more impactful for your health than even reading this article. So don’t skip it.

Step 4 – Improve Inflammatory Lifestyles

The last step is used to reduce your inflammation and heal your leaky gut. And it’s all about your lifestyle.

Many Celiacs are unknowingly choosing a lifestyle that creates disease. This includes doing things like going to the gym every day, training for and running marathons, CrossFitting 5 times a week, sleeping less than 7 hours a day, using caffeine after noon, and drinking excess alcohol each night.

Each of these behaviors creates more inflammation and contributes to leaky gut syndrome.

No, don’t freak out! I still want you to work out and exercise, just less strenuously until you’re in better health. I don’t believe that coffee is really bad, but it surely is after noon because it messes up sleep cycles. And I don’t think wine or alcohol is necessarily toxic, but drinking more than one day a week is definitely hurting your gut.

Look, you’re changing your diet, you’re healing your leaky gut, it’s time to take this seriously and that includes cutting out lifestyle habits that are harming you.

In Conclusion…

Okay, so if you made it this far, you’ll likely be better educated than your doctor on your disease (which is impressive).

Let’s review the important take-home points:

  1. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease where the body attacks the lining of the small intestine
  2. Celiac disease and all other autoimmune diseases occur when 3 conditions are met
    1. Genetic predisposition
    2. Environmental trigger
    3. Leaky gut
  3. Gliadin (a protein in gluten) causes an increase in zonulin, which controls the widening of tight junctions in the gut, creating a leaky gut in those with Celiac who eat gluten
  4. If you don’t heal your digestive tract, your risk for most disease and early death rise dramatically
  5. The gluten-free diet alone isn’t enough to heal you
  6. There are four steps to treating Celiac disease based on the research
    1. Avoid gluten in food and in all products you put on your skin
    2. Eat a more nutritious diet to replace malabsorption caused by disease
    3. Heal your leaky gut (watch this free autoimmune webinar)
    4. Change your lifestyle to help you avoid leaky gut and inflammation

You are now armed with the basic information to really handle and overcome Celiac disease. I hope you share this with others you know who are affected. And let us know in the comments what your number one takeaway from this article is.


Note: We earn a small commission, if you use the product links on this page to purchase the products we mention. We only recommend products we would use or have used in the past. Your purchase helps support our site and ongoing research.

Steven Wright

About Steven Wright

Steve Wright is a health engineer and author. In 2009, he reached a breaking point when IBS took over his life and the doctors didn't know how to help. Since then, he has transformed his health and started HealthyGut.com to help others naturally heal stomach problems. You can check out his story here and find him on Google+, Facebook or Twitter.

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79 thoughts on “Celiac Disease 101 – A Beginner’s Guide to Healing

  1. Avatar

    I was diagnosed with CD last July.
    I was absolutely Shocked by the Lake of info the hospital had for me. I literally mean they Bearly knew what it was. I was told I shouldn’t eat leafy greens, uncooked veggies, fruits,wheat,rye and nothing white. So no bread no rice no Noddles no potatoes. They didn’t give me a packet about it Nothing they acted like it was just a tummy ache.
    My symptoms where Out of No where I was blind sided. One evening about 2am I feel like I needed to potty. So I go to the bathroom next thing I know I’m not able to potty I’m sweating nonstop and vomiting. I have Blood in my stool and in my vomit. That scared me to death. After about 2 hours of this is stops. I go to the ER they transferred me to another hospital and there I was for 3days and 3nights. I was not allowed to eat anything the 1st night or the 2nd next day and night. I mean nothing no jello, no pudding Only water.. then on the 3day they allowed me to get breakfast. One egg, oatmeal,milk, banana. That was what they gave me to eat.. This was after I was Diagnosed.. Most Doctors Are Clueless.. This has Been Hands down The MOST HELPFUL GUILD I HAVE CAME ACROSSED.
    THANK YOU THANK YOU.. I feel like I now understand what CD is an how to manage it an fingers crossed Heal..

  2. Avatar

    This article says that ALL autoimmune disease is caused by leaky gut. Does this apply to type 1 diabetes as well? Does a 6 year old get t1d from having a leaky gut????? I’m not upset just really curious.

    • Avatar

      Hi Sarah – great question! There are many factors in why someone can end up with type 1 diabetes – Genetics, Gut health, and environmental factors.

      It’s likely that the 6 year old has an impaired gut to some degree (there are many things that can cause a leaky gut – stress, sleep, diet, toxins, exercise level to name a few)
      Chances are, focusing on gut health and diet will do wonders, as this is the case in our experience. Let us know if you have more questions:)

  3. Avatar

    Hi, I have been diagnosed with CD as toddler after penicilin allergy. First they thought it is leukemia and kept me in hospital for 3 months. My mother went to medical school for nurses in former Yugoslavia and she remembered a test for CD that one old doctor told them. She didn`t believe it is leukemia and she tried that test – little piece of stool in a glass of water – if it floats and has gray-ish colour it is CD. It was positive. Doctors didn`t believe her. Then she took me to a different hospital where they have doctors for intestinal problems and they confirmed CD. 9 years later after gluten-free diet and high vitamin and mineral intake they told us i was cured, that there is no trace of CD anymore and that i should start eating gluten again. And I did. It was all fine for the next 20 years of consuming gluten but then it all went downhill. Last three years I got: hashimoto, hypothyroidism, insulin resistence, fatty liver, obesity, acne, joint pain and adrenal glands problem. Now it seems like it is all a CD domino effect. But doctors look at my papers and don`t even consider CD as potential root problem for all of this. They just give me more pills every month

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    THANK YOU for putting this all together in one place! I was diagnosed with celiac disease (finally) 8 1/2 years ago and did not improve on a gf diet. Amazing how many times I was told I must be cheating or I was crazy!!!!! After doing my own research and finding your site – I removed all grains and eat grass-fed meats, fruits and veges mostly. My life has changed 🙂 🙂 :). I also sleep more and workout way less. So thank you again for getting some real help out there for celiac people – and letting them know they are not cheating or crazy – you guys truly are heros!!!!!!!!!!

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      HI Jim – both Jordan and Steve have had their thyroid checked out at various times and have needed to support they thyroid it one way or another. They Thyroid is such an important part of our health that it’s often a good idea to have it checked along with other things like the adrenals and possible gut infections.

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    Sheree hennessy says:

    I was going to drs for at least 12 years with stomach pain bloating ,sick after eating gluten sent me into early labour ,i was giving reflux tablets or pain tablets ,i ended up in hospital nearly dying ,i was lucky to be alive ,i had no iron stores ,no iron so i didnt have enough oxygen going around in my body ,my lungs filled up with blood clots ,half callapsed and full of fluid .my blood was so out of order the specialist didnt know were too start ,they did every test possible my blood was showing up that i had cancer so they assumed i had cancer on the lungs ,they wete going to operate yhe next morning,that afternoon one of my specialist rang a lung proffessor in sydney and told him the situation ,he said have you tested her for celiac disease ?the only thing they didnt test me for ,the tested me for celiac and went from there 3 months later i was sent home and had to go to my gp ,she didnt think celiac disease was a problem and said continue as normal ,i booked in to see a dietian ,she had to look up what i should eat and get back too me .this is 20 years ago .im sure they have come along since then .but it nearly took my life

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    Such a great article, thanks for making it! Not sure where the ‘A LOT’ of meat comes from? As overeating meat will stress the digestive system too..? Would have thought it would be in same section as fruits and veg- as in eat more and adequate amounts of all of them? But thank you for making will be sending to clients 🙂

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    Is washing dishes in the dishwasher enough to clean the gluten off of dishes? I’ve read multiple articles and they all seem to disagree – some say the dishwasher is sufficient, others say you need to rinse the dishes with dish soap and water after washing them in the dishwasher, etc. What would you guys suggest as the best thing to do? Thanks!

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      Hello Ahmad – while some may be able to tolerate a small amount from time to time it really isn’t advised to dive back into eating gluten. Gluten directly damages the gut lining, especially for those with celiac. If you’re looking to add in some grain to your diet, you can try quinoa or millet.

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    I really need some answer … So my wife has Celiac’s n has lost aalot of weight n is always truly sick … We have switched to GF on everything down to our shampoo lotions ect please someone reach out to me n give me some relief …. Yours truly a worried wife ??

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      Hi Peter – there are some foods that science suggests could be cross-reactors for gluten. If you’re gluten sensitive, the best solution is to follow an elimination diet like our Solving Leaky Gut program so that you can then do a reintroduction challenge with these foods and see if they are an issue for you.

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    Have been on the scd diet and removed ALL grains but is just holding not improving, I get the opposite of constipation if i eat anything with oils eg olive or avocado oil on salad, oil with garlic and avocado ( yes organic oils yes organic virgin first cold pressed, yes reputable brands here in Australia) any idea why? Also can you recommend any supplements that do not have grains/starches/sugars/clays as filling agents I see so many peeps trying to reduce sugars then undoing everything with supplements. Very difficult to get legume/dairy/starch free protein powders, I did find one but it still spikes blood sugars. Potato/white rice etc rockets my blood sugars. Dr Datis Kharrazian has good stuff on cross-reaction pathways. Any recommended labs in Australia for intolerence testing, or direct send in USA (can’t afford Cyrex the American dollar is too strong for us.) Thanks for your great responses above

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      Hi pip – thanks for reaching out. I’m sorry to hear you’re struggling to digest fat. You may be having some issues with your gallbladder and we suggest seeing your doctor about that. To support your gallbladder, you can use an ox bile supplements, eat more beets, and use a digestive enzyme (https://healthygut.com/2013/07/who-needs-digestive-enzymes-and-how-to-take-them/). Most people find that coconut oil is the easiest-to-absorb fat because it doesn’t require bile.

      Regarding supplements – we think small amounts of rice or potato flour either as a filler or as a prebiotic food for probiotics are fine if the supplement is otherwise helpful to you.

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    Great article, but as you say we need to do our personal tweaking.
    Over the past few months, bread and rice starting creeping back into my diet.
    Not connecting the dots, however, I began to feel lightheaded and anxious, not exactly knowing why.
    By default and sort of in a half daze, I began rereading some of the past articles here and branched out to bile acid malabsorption in other places.
    Wow, a missing puzzle piece that had been confounding me for exactly a decade, finally came into place!
    I had asked my doctor if I could have bile acid sequestrant instead of the statin drug she kindly prescribed for my very high cholesterol.
    This was really a spot on diagnosis by myself who was in a sorry state back then.
    The only problem, it didn’t really make me feel any better, just the opposite.
    I tried it again on various occasions but couldn’t understand why it didn’t help.
    Well, think about it, if the small intestine is compromised by grains, in particular, gluten, of course, all that irritating bile will course down to the large intestine.
    I was reading the post with the pains of 1000 knives. I have been going around with cramps for years where the colon is, knowing darn well this is bile acid.
    Previous to cramping, like 20 years ago, it just used to be irritating on the way out.
    I thought that the bile acid sequestrant would solve the problem. It didn’t, although I do feel happy for those who swear by it.
    I am back to strict SCD. It didn’t take too long for things to go back to “normal” but these is residual irritation.
    As per the above article, my own tweaks are to avoid like the plague, bread, rice and any other grains.
    A couple months ago I also gave up alcohol completely, for the very reason that it is concentrated sugar. I was sad to give up to give up the temporary pain reliever for my cramps that I would look forward to at the end of a miserable day. At least for a couple hours, I would not be in pain.
    However, it is not getting to the source of the problem which is a compromised small intestine. This has to heal first and it seems the only way is to exclude anything that irritates it.
    I enjoy reading the articles and have profited much by this site, also gotten some encouragement by proxy as it were. Gottshall’s “Breaking the Cycle” I will now take much more seriously than before. 10 years ago I was reading Shipko’s articles about bile reflux and the anxiety connection. Actually, I am interested if anyone has any experience or information about it. It seems to me that it all goes together.
    I am of the opinion now, even if a wild bile secretion may have been caused by stress, anxiety is a by-product of over production of bile and its malabsorption.

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    Hi and thank you for the great information. I have been a diagnosed coeliac for 4 yrs now and I. Went to my GP, who was hopeless. He said that I must’ve cheated as I’m saying I’m still sick with bloating symptoms and told me to stop eating ….. I changed Dr and found an INTERGRATIVE Dr, who did tests and found I also have CANDIDA. This plays havoc with the body so much. I have found eating FERMENTED foods, that have L-Plantarium probiotic in it helps with the candida. He also found that I have leaky gut, parasites, pyrolies, hi copper, low zinc and low methylation. I am still having trouble with my body and I never knew that the GF grains would also be upsetting for me. So thank you for that.
    I have a question, about MEAT SWEATS? Wot is that? As I’ve never heard of it before.
    I love eating nuts, almonds, peanuts, walnuts, pecans, etc, are these bad for me as well?
    I have put my name down for your free webinar looking forward to it ..

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    Hi. Enjoyed your article very much. My question is, have you ever heard of a case of a celiac disease patient losing all their teeth due to severe bone loss (obviously because it took years to be diagnosed) & any suggestions on convincing your medical insurance company that this is a medical problem & not a dental problem? I will not be able to get my mouth fixed if my insurance refuses to cover either implants or bone grafting. Thank you.

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      The tooth loss factor is real. I have several autoimmune disorders, and one in particular is the culprit for my tooth loss: SJOGRENS DISEASE. A simple blood test will confirm it.

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    I have had this problem for about 3 years. I did see a wonderful natural medicine person who guided me to a non proses diet, juicing and vitamins. That was one and a head years ago. It has made a tremendous difference in my life. I have also found I can not tolerate any of the beans like black beans and some other beans and peas along the dark high tannin foods.

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    i have a friend with celiac who is in serious trouble in the hospital. since conventional medicine isn’t attuned to this disease, he is not getting what he needs and is wasting away. won’t go into the whole story, but right now they have put him on a PEG tube (feeding directly into his stomach from an incision) but he is throwing it up. he is not getting nourishment. i’m wondering if some digestive enzymes can be put with the feeding would be helpful? or any suggestions anyone may have that the docs would listen to…we’ll try it. he is desperately hanging on to life.

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    Thanks for this great article, Steve! I appreciate the work you put into this serious disease. I was diagnosed with “gluten enteropathy” at age 2; diagnosed with celiac disease at age 25. Now, nearly 20 years later, I am casein intolerant and find that sugar (in general) seems to cause inflammatory issues. Do you know of research which explains this relationship between celiac disease and other intolerances?

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    Just want to say thanks to Jordan and Steve, and the others behind the scenes, for making this website. It has been very helpful as I’m learning how to heal my body from Celiac. I have some questions about the SCD diet plan (mostly cooking questions). Where can I post my questions about that? Should I do that on FB?

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    I was dx with Celiac over two yrs ago to due continued epigastric and RUQ pain. I had three out of four blood tests come back with super high antibodies for Celiac but my endoscopy showed no sprue. Anyway, my stomach issues have not resolved and now I show symptoms of stennorhea and just had a low fecal elastase score of 199 which is mild pancreatic insufficiency. I also have SIBO which I just started treating with biocidin. Is the pancreatic insufficiency likely to improve with treatment of SIBO and diet or should I push for enzymes? Would enzymes be a lifelong thing or can I get the pancreas to function better over time? I am losing weight and scared to even start the SCD, lowering my carbs and then not be able to digest fats.

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      Hi Kristin – thanks for commenting.

      I’m really sorry to hear what you’ve gone through so far. We aren’t qualified to give you any advice right now – we don’t know your case history, etc. However, there are lots of people who would be qualified to give you really great advice. We think you should seriously consider working with a functional medicine practitioner ASAP in addition to your gastroenterologist. A practitioner can look at your unique situation and give you personalized recommendations that take into consideration your complete health and history.

      Please email us at support@scdlifestyle.com for our full list of practitioner recommendations. If you can’t work with a practitioner right now, we encourage you to take these questions to your GI doctor.

      We look forward to an email from you soon – hope this helps Kristin!

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    Hi i’m wondering your opinion on non GMO soy milk i cant use milk almond milk rice milk. Soy is so controversial but seems to be the only one i can consume with no bloating etc… I probably have leaky gut not celiacs

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      Hi Camilla – thanks for commenting!

      I recommend you attend our free webinar for more info, but our Solving Leaky Gut program isn’t designed for vegetarians or vegans. We respect that life choice, but our research and experience has shown you need nutrients only animal products can provide to heal the gut.

      After you’ve done more healing you’ll be able to introduce more vegetarian meals, but during the healing period, nutrients from meat are very important. Like I mentioned – we’ll explain more at the free webinar! Hope to see you there!

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    overall great article, all claims are backed up .. and good for peeps with celiacs to give to their family to understand what they may be experiencing.. I was diagnosed way too late, now having to work to reverse the damage, so I appreciate the knowledge, urgency and passion that is so lacking in the current medical paradigm in regards to autoimmune/celiacs. I was a bit surprised with the eat more potato, sweet potato and rice, and I thought the how to heal was a little over simplified, but apart from that great article.

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      Angela – great question! Yes we make a distinction between starches and consider some to be “Safe” like white rice and sweet potatoes. We’re going to explain more about why some are safe and others are not (it has more to do with the prolamins we were talking about earlier and not the “starchy” or “carby” nature of the foods).

      The best way to learn more is to register for the free autoimmune webinar by clicking the links in the article (in the yellow boxes or at the bottom). The webinar is totally free, lasts about an hour and a half, and is full of a ton of information we couldn’t fit in this article. If you can’t attend when we are broadcasting it, register anyway and we will send you the link to the replay.

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        Hi Mariel – I am working at that time and I would really love to learn more about what will be in the webinar. Is there somewhere else that Steve and Jordan have this info?

        I was recently dx’d with Celiac and have been doing extensive reading on how to heal my body naturally (most of it has been through this site, since a lot of other sites do not have the kind of scientific base this one does). I do have a gastro appt. tomorrow, but expect the Dr. will just tell me not to eat gluten (wow, thanks; and my insurance paid you $200+ to tell me what I already know? sarcasm implied…).

        If not, will the video be available after the webinar?


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          Hi Wendy – the webinar is the best way to get the info 🙂

          If you can’t attend at the time we’re broadcasting the webinar – go ahead and register anyways – we email a replay of the webinar to everyone who registers so you can watch anytime!

          I’m really glad to see you’ve found the site – a Celiac diagnosis can be confusing and overwhelming – but you’re definitely on the right track if you’ve recognized you need to do more than just eliminate gluten!

          If you need anything – email us at support@scdlifestyle.com

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    This is a great article that details why one shouldn’t eat gluten or even psuedo type gluten. However, it doesn’t take into account one’s blood-type. Certain blood types shouldn’t eat white potatoes nor white rice; they don’t metabolize well.
    I say, before one indulges in a full-blown gluten diet thinking all fruits and veggies and proteins are available to their diet, they first check out what blood type they are and plan your diet from that. Disclosure: I am not a health professional, but an individual who has read a lot, sees an alternative doctor who has guided me through the process and have experienced myself the difference between gluten and GF diet.

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      Hi Nancy – thanks for commenting and for your kind words about our article!

      Steve and Jordan actually DO NOT support the blood type diet at all. There is no substantial research to back up claims about blood type diets and they do not consider books like “The Blood Type Diet” to be valid. We encourage you to test out each individual food yourself and see what works for you – not base your diet off your blood type.

      You can check out these links to understand why we don’t support the blood type diet: sciencedaily.com
      Blood Type Diet

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    I think I found a typo. When referring to Glutamine you state “Start at 2.5 mg morning and evening and work up to 20 mg morning and night, over two weeks. (Read our complete recommendations on L-Glutamine here.)” I think this should be g instead of mg. Cheers.

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    Thomas Winfield says:

    Thank you! This is a great resource to help friends, family, and co-workers better understand my disease. It is also a great reminder to be diligent and conscientious of my health and continued healing. You guys ROCK!!

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    Hello, Inhave Hashimoto’s and just learned that inhale slight goiter and four nodules on my thyroid. I also experience constipation and gas. I sense that I have had Candida for a long time. I know, after four years, that gluten free is not enough.
    Could you guide me towards a protocol for leaky gut, Candida and Hashimoto’s?

    Thank you, Susan

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      Hi Susan, thanks so much for commenting and reading our (long) article 🙂

      The next step is to register for our free leaky gut webinar by clicking the link at the end of this article – there we are going to discuss the next steps beyond gluten-free to heal (diet, lifestyle, supplements)! We hope to connect with you there

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    Great resource. Thank you for creating it. When discussing testing you mention “You can do a serum lab test or even 23andme.com testing to figure this out (meaning you don’t need to wait for your doctor to do this testing).” Can you please explain how specifically to interpret the raw data of 23andme to learn if one is indeed susceptible? I have searched the net extensively but it appears that there is a lot of disagreement whether this is possible or not. And even for those that believe its possible there seems to be a lot of confusion of how to do it or what snips to examine. I suspect you could probably help lot of people by breaking it down in a simple explanation. Thank you for all you do. Cheers.

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      HI Salus – thanks for commenting and for your great question. I wasn’t sure about this, so I asked Steve and here is what the said:

      “No one on our team is a specialist in Genetic SNPs and so I can’t really give you the answer you seem to be asking here. I would check out the work of Ben Lynch and also use a few more people who say they are experts in this field and figure out what they agree on and disagree on. The data and information is really SUPER new. There’s no real “KNOWNs” at this point because the science is so new. However, we do know that HLA DQ2/DQ8 are the genes that you need to screen for for Celiac Disease at this point. The 23andme report should tell you specifically inside their software what your results are for these SNPs”

      Hope that helps 🙂

      What we do agree on is that a serum lab test is NOT enough to definitely rule Celiac Disease in or out – if you have symptoms, you should consult with your doctor as well about more testing.

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      I did the 23 and me testing. The 23 and me doesn’t proved the genetic data to you in that degree of detail. Iamvseeing a natural medicine person who could access the data 23 and me gathered. Then I paid her around 35 dollars to send the data to another company that sorted the data and sent it back to us. I ended up with about 44 pages of genetics and the gluten gene was among rhem.

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