In 1994 I was diagnosed with celiac disease, which led me to create Celiac.com in 1995. I created this site for a single purpose: To help as many people as possible with celiac disease get diagnosed so they can begin to live happy, healthy gluten-free lives. Celiac.com was the first site on the Internet dedicated solely to celiac disease. In 1998 I created The Gluten-Free Mall, Your Special Diet Superstore!, and I am the co-author of the book Cereal Killers, and founder and publisher of Journal of Gluten Sensitivity.
A life-long diet free of gluten is the standard treatment for celiac disease. To manage the disease and prevent complications, its essential to avoid all foods that contain gluten. That means it is crucial to:
Most patients who remove gluten from their diets find that their symptoms improve as inflammation of the small intestine begins to subside, usually within several weeks. Many patients who adopt a gluten-free diet report an improvement within 48 hours.
Results of a gluten-free diet can be especially dramatic in children with celiac disease. Not only does their diarrhea and abdominal distress usually subside but, frequently, their behavior and growth rate are often markedly improved.
A reappearance of intestinal villi nearly always follows an improvement in symptoms.
In younger people, the villi may complete healing and regrowth in several months, while in older people, the process may take as long as two to three years.
In cases where nutritional deficiencies are severe, celiac patients may require vitamin and mineral supplements to help bring about a healthier vitamin profile: folic acid and B12 for patients with anemia due to folate or B12 deficiency; vitamin K for patients with an abnormal ProTime; calcium and vitamin D supplements for patients with low blood calcium levels or with osteoporosis. For all such cases, individuals should consult their health professional.
Skin lesions common in patients with dermatitis herpetiformis often improve with adherence to a gluten-free diet.
For patients with celiac disease, the importance of maintaining a life-long diet free of gluten can hardly be over-stressed. Research indicates that only half of those patients who have had celiac disease for at least 20 years were following a strict gluten-free diet. Up to 30% of those patients showed evidence of bone loss and iron deficiency. These are but a few of the long-term consequences for celiac patients failing to follow a gluten-free diet.health writer who lives in San Francisco and is a frequent author of articles for Celiac.com.