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      Frequently Asked Questions About Celiac Disease   09/30/2015

      This Celiac.com FAQ on celiac disease will guide you to all of the basic information you will need to know about the disease, its diagnosis, testing methods, a gluten-free diet, etc.   Subscribe to FREE Celiac.com email alerts What are the major symptoms of celiac disease? Celiac Disease Symptoms What testing is available for celiac disease? - list blood tests, endo with biopsy, genetic test and enterolab (not diagnostic) Celiac Disease Screening Interpretation of Celiac Disease Blood Test Results Can I be tested even though I am eating gluten free? How long must gluten be taken for the serological tests to be meaningful? The Gluten-Free Diet 101 - A Beginner's Guide to Going Gluten-Free Is celiac inherited? Should my children be tested? Ten Facts About Celiac Disease Genetic Testing Is there a link between celiac and other autoimmune diseases? Celiac Disease Research: Associated Diseases and Disorders Is there a list of gluten foods to avoid? Unsafe Gluten-Free Food List (Unsafe Ingredients) Is there a list of gluten free foods? Safe Gluten-Free Food List (Safe Ingredients) Gluten-Free Alcoholic Beverages Distilled Spirits (Grain Alcohols) and Vinegar: Are they Gluten-Free? Where does gluten hide? Additional Things to Beware of to Maintain a 100% Gluten-Free Diet Free recipes: Gluten-Free Recipes Where can I buy gluten-free stuff? Support this site by shopping at The Celiac.com Store.

Crohn's Disease And Gluten-Free Diets
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16 posts in this topic

I'm currently training for my first triathlon in order to raise money for the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America. I picked this one because I know that some of their research does overlap other GI immune conditions. I'm not totally sure how though. I've found some research about shared genes. I want to make sure I'm telling people the right things, since many of them have experience with celiac only.

My main question now is how many people with Crohn's and/or colitis follow a gluten free diet? Is it the same or different from the celiac diet in any ways? I've met one person who said she couldn't eat many other gluten free replacement grains. Is that something that varies by person?

Also, how does a doctor distinguish between celiac disease and Crohn's when it affects the small intestine?

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I cannot address a lot of your questions but I believe the differential dx between Crohns and Celiac disease would be that with Celiac disease there will be villi blunting.

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I believe Crohn's is usually diagnosed by barium swallow x-rays of the GI tract, both upper and lower, as it affects the whole intestine.

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Some people with Crohn's follow the GFCFSF diet also. Others don't. If it helps an individual seems to vary. Some people have both Crohn's and celiac too.

There isn't any clear cut answer to why Crohn's affects the whole intestine and celiac only the small intestine. They are both auto-immune diseases/conditions and are both serious. However with Crohn's a diet that helps everyone is not a known thing, like it is with celiac. Of course then you look a little further and find that many people with celiac have additional food intolerances beyond GFCFSF. People with Crohn's often have antibodies to baker's yeast also.

Crohn's patients generally use a combination of diet and immuno-suppressants to manage their symptoms. Some don't make any diet changes and use drugs to control their symptoms.

They are both auto-immmune diseases/conditions of the digestive tract and probably have more in common than different. But celiac is the only auto-immune disease that doctors understand the trigger for right now. Crohn's is still a mystery.

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There isn't any clear cut answer to why Crohn's affects the whole intestine and celiac only the small intestine. They are both auto-immune diseases/conditions and are both serious. However with Crohn's a diet that helps everyone is not a known thing, like it is with celiac. Of course then you look a little further and find that many people with celiac have additional food intolerances beyond GFCFSF. People with Crohn's often have antibodies to baker's yeast also.

Crohn's patients generally use a combination of diet and immuno-suppressants to manage their symptoms. Some don't make any diet changes and use drugs to control their symptoms.

They are both auto-immmune diseases/conditions of the digestive tract and probably have more in common than different. But celiac is the only auto-immune disease that doctors understand the trigger for right now. Crohn's is still a mystery.

Might be because docs don't tell them to change their diet. I know people with Crohn's, one had huge chunks of her large intestine removed, who were never told about diet. They just take pills. :o

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I know someone with Crohn's, too, and I asked her if she'd ever been tested for celiac. She hasn't but knows we share a lot of the same symptoms. She also knows both are autoimmune. She'd rather just take her pills, which she's been doing for many years. So I don't know if she was ever told about the gluten-free diet or if she'd just miss the spontaniety of eating out a lot. So I've dropped the subject.

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Before I was aware of celiac I knew someone with Crohn's who literally lived on pasta, and no, it was not Tinkyada :o And I did sonehow know at that time that was not the right thing to do because I said to my MIL "But she has Crohn's!!" It makes you wonder why doctors insist on NO SALT and NO FAT but they can't say the words NO GLUTEN!!

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Thanks for the responses. It's interesting. The one girl I talked to at the meetings said she went into remission on a Gluten-free Casein-free low sugar diet, and some doctors supported her while others didn't. It sounded very similar to my own experience with negative tests, a variety of responses from doctors, but major health improvements on a different diet.

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Crohn's disease affects several layers of the intestines, unlike celiac, which just affects the top layers, and there is often narrowing/scarring/ulcers. It shows up in biopsies in the affected area, and I believe the pattern of immune cells in the mucosa is different. Typically, the symptoms are slightly different as well but there can be a lot of overlap. (I really really did not want Crohn's disease to be diagnosed last year.)

A really common diet recommendation for Crohn's is no whole grains and no beans. Digesting fiber ahd phytic actid tends to be hard. That's probably why she said she can't eat some (whole) gluten-free grains.

Some research points to infection with MAP (Mycobacterium paratuberculosis) as the trigger for Crohn's but it's not well accepted.

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This thread is interesting to read. The only person I have ever known with crohns told me there was no way to help the symptoms with dietary changes and they would not even entertain the idea. So I never really looked into it or anything. This person was on very strong medicines and still in pain most of the time. I wish they would have at least looked into some dietary changes to see if it helped (although I understand it's not the same as celiac and diet may not help everyone, it's hard to watch someone so desperate for symptom relief yet refuse to at least try a change of food). This person also ate mostly pasta and breads however and I really do wonder now if they were addicted to the gluten and just making their pain worse by eating it so much.

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Hi everyone,

Interesting to read the responses from the Celiac community. I have Crohn's disease, am working on a documentary film about treating digestive conditions such as IBS, Celiac, Crohn's & ulcerative colitis using alternative treatments when drugs and surgery no longer work.

Several of you are correct that there is no specific, doctor recommended dietary plan for treating Crohn's disease. Unless you talk to a Naturopathic doctor, but even then, it's still a mixed bag of responses. No standards at all.

I use primarily diet and supplementation to control my D and pain. I haven't been on medication since 2007. Gastroenterologists absolutely do not believe food plays a role and tell patients that the best course of treatment is medication and sometimes surgery. This is why some of you have run into opposition when trying to talk to your friends about diet treatments for Crohn's. They are told it doesn't work and they believe their doctors.

It is my hope with my documentary that I will prove that it can work! There are many people who are discovering this everyday and defying their doctor's requests to take immunosupressive drugs, which can have horrible side effects. It ain't easy, especially because we can't tolerate any grains at all (those of us who use special diets) and instead we make our breads with nut flours like almond and pecan. The most popular diet for us is called the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD). If anyone with Celiac still has trouble on gluten free, I recommend SCD.

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Hi everyone,

Interesting to read the responses from the Celiac community. I have Crohn's disease, am working on a documentary film about treating digestive conditions such as IBS, Celiac, Crohn's & ulcerative colitis using alternative treatments when drugs and surgery no longer work.

Several of you are correct that there is no specific, doctor recommended dietary plan for treating Crohn's disease. Unless you talk to a Naturopathic doctor, but even then, it's still a mixed bag of responses. No standards at all.

I use primarily diet and supplementation to control my D and pain. I haven't been on medication since 2007. Gastroenterologists absolutely do not believe food plays a role and tell patients that the best course of treatment is medication and sometimes surgery. This is why some of you have run into opposition when trying to talk to your friends about diet treatments for Crohn's. They are told it doesn't work and they believe their doctors.

It is my hope with my documentary that I will prove that it can work! There are many people who are discovering this everyday and defying their doctor's requests to take immunosupressive drugs, which can have horrible side effects. It ain't easy, especially because we can't tolerate any grains at all (those of us who use special diets) and instead we make our breads with nut flours like almond and pecan. The most popular diet for us is called the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD). If anyone with Celiac still has trouble on gluten free, I recommend SCD.

Thank you so much for this post. I just finished messaging another advanced member about my daughter's recent symptoms. She is 7 yrs old and was diagnosed a year and a half ago w/Celiac. She was doing great on the gluten-free diet for almost exactly a year to the date and then she started getting horrible stomach pains and bad headaches. Her GI suggested taking her off of lactose to see if it would help. It didn't. I started reading about the SCD diet and Dr. Haas' research and decided to take her off of ALL grains and also dairy which almost immediately seemed to work. Her symptoms went away. I tried to reintroduce rice and rice pasta a few weeks later and after 4 days of one serving a day, her symptoms returned. I also tried separately to reintroduce casein and the stomachaches returned as well. I am baffled that she could be doing so well and now she is so restricted on what she can eat. She also cannot tolerate corn so she is basically now following the Paleo diet: protein, vegetables, fruit, no grains...also, no starches, no corn, no dairy....VERY hard for a 7 yr old.

Over the past couple weeks a stomach bug has been going around our house where we feel pretty good until we eat something and then we get abdominal gurgling, loose stools, mild stomach pain, and loss of appetite. Most of us are recovered and pretty much back to normal, except for our daugher who is still having a lot of stomach pain and just doesn't feel good in general. I'm scared that her symptoms are now returning again since it is taking her so long to get over it. Have you found that following the SCD diet can possibly be temporary and then you are able to return to a "normal" gluten-free diet or is this a permanent solution? Dr. Haas talked about doing it for a number of years and then being able to return to normal foods. Thanks for any advice you can give!

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I would love to see your documentary. Did you complete it?

My daughter was suffering with many symptoms for several months. She had a colonoscopy and the results came back "consistent with Crohns". Her gastroenterologist stated that current medical thinking is that diet is not the answer. He said that there were very effective drugs available now and put her on Asacol. She wound up in the emergency room twice in one day with palpitations. Even though the doctor claimed that there was no connection he pulled her off the medication. Wonder of wonder, no more palpitations. I have taken her to 2 different gastroenterologists, a holistic doctor, a nutritionist and the list is growing...meanwhile she has gone gluten free and is doing very well. I wonder if she had Crohn's at all.

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I was diagnosed with Crohns disease last year after colonoscopy with biopsies. I only have a mild case and the medication does help, but I still have alot of other symptoms and I am convinced that changing my diet is the answer.

I can't handle whole grains, corn, popcorn, too much milk, caffeine and a variety of other foods. I still get daily nausea and stomach pain. I know alot of other people who suffer from Crohns disease have very restricted diets but it is mostly trial and error to avoid things that set them off, not just a simple Dr recommended diet.

Incidently, I have just had an endoscopy to test for concurrent coeliacs but I haven't got the biopsy results back yet.

I also plan to visit a dietitian who specialises in IBD/coeliac type diseases so hopefully I will get some results.

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My main question now is how many people with Crohn's and/or colitis follow a gluten free diet? Is it the same or different from the celiac diet in any ways? I've met one person who said she couldn't eat many other gluten free replacement grains. Is that something that varies by person?

Also, how does a doctor distinguish between celiac disease and Crohn's when it affects the small intestine?

My mother had Crohn's disease, so I can't say I was totally surprised in 2008 when I was diagnosed with it as well after a colonoscopy. We never heard of celiac, or gluten back then. I lived on pasta, cereal and sandwiches. I was given medication to treat the disease.

In 2010, after a stint of antibiotic-associated colitis, I had developed the greatest food fear of my life because I had gotten so sick from everything I consumed. I went to a nutritionist.

She said I was gluten and dairy intolerant. I thought she was nuts, but in my desperation, I followed a gluten-free DF diet for one month before returning to her. In that time I was convinced - I had lost five pounds and symptoms overall were decreasing.

I have been gluten-free and DF ever since. In 2011, when I had my follow up colonoscopy, my doctor said the evidence of early stages Crohn's was gone. He would not credit the diet, but admitted that there was no way the medication could have reversed the effects.

I don't know if I have celiac and I was misdiagnosed. What's worse, is that I will never know if this diet could have helped my mother in all her years of suffering (she passed away in 2006).

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My mother had Crohn's disease, so I can't say I was totally surprised in 2008 when I was diagnosed with it as well after a colonoscopy. We never heard of celiac, or gluten back then. I lived on pasta, cereal and sandwiches. I was given medication to treat the disease.

In 2010, after a stint of antibiotic-associated colitis, I had developed the greatest food fear of my life because I had gotten so sick from everything I consumed. I went to a nutritionist.

She said I was gluten and dairy intolerant. I thought she was nuts, but in my desperation, I followed a gluten-free DF diet for one month before returning to her. In that time I was convinced - I had lost five pounds and symptoms overall were decreasing.

I have been gluten-free and DF ever since. In 2011, when I had my follow up colonoscopy, my doctor said the evidence of early stages Crohn's was gone. He would not credit the diet, but admitted that there was no way the medication could have reversed the effects.

I don't know if I have celiac and I was misdiagnosed. What's worse, is that I will never know if this diet could have helped my mother in all her years of suffering (she passed away in 2006).

It's good to hear the gluten-free diet is helping you Riverand. You might want to look at going soy-free also. Soy is one of the top 8 food allergens and is a problem for some celiacs. Isn't it great they put it in baby formula?

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/12/041219153340.htm

Research Studies Effects Of Soy Baby Formula On Intestinal Development

Dec. 27, 2004 — URBANA, Ill. -- Two studies by University of Illinois food science and human nutrition professor Sharon Donovan show that the soy isoflavone genistein, in amounts present in commercial soy infant formulas, may inhibit intestinal cell growth in babies. So what are we to think about soy in a baby's diet?

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    • Hi! I've just been recently diagnosed as Celiac through the whole biopsy-shebang, and I have a little bit of insight on the whole diagnosis thing and how I was eventually diagnosed, and my advice for you. Brace yourself, this might be a bit long, but it might be worth the read and I promise I will eventually get to the point. If you don't want the huge story, skip to the long line of capital As: I first saw my doctor when I had a few problems swallowing. I've compared it to when you're nervous and you feel like you have a lump in your throat - but after I eat and (sometimes) drink. I just mentioned briefly it to my family doctor when I was addressing another issue, but right away he referred me to a gastroenterologist and ordered a barium swallow x-ray test. The x-ray came back completely normal, and so the g.e. then suspected GERD, put me on acid blockers to see if they would work, no harm done sort of thing. The only thing I got out of the acid blockers were the side effects, so it was back to square 1. The g.e. said that the next test he could do was an upper endoscopy with biopsies. (hint: the celiac test!) Wanting to find a solution to my problems, the endoscopy was scheduled. Pretty painless, I was in and out in a day, but the results took much much longer. Biopsies, or the little pieces of my esophagus, stomach, and small intestine, were sent to the lab, and they came back clean. I didn't really go back to the g.e. for a whole year after that because life became busy, I wasn't prompted to follow up, and I just dismissed the swallowing problems the best I could and went on my way. Now, I've never been huge on the gluten, big bread-y sandwiches or croissants or pies were never foods that I super "enjoyed". I wouldn't feel bad after eating them, I just didn't like the taste of bread so much, but I loved cookies, cake and a lot of other things that do have gluten in them. 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