Celiac Disease Home > Diet for Celiac Disease

When a person has celiac disease, their diet needs to be gluten-free. A gluten-free diet excludes wheat, rye, and barley. Following a gluten-free diet is a lifelong endeavor for someone with celiac -- even a small amount of gluten can damage the small intestine again. Adhering to a gluten-free diet will stop symptoms, heal existing intestinal damage, and prevent further damage for most people with the illness. The following article provides suggestions for following a gluten-free diet.

Diet for Celiac Disease: An Overview

For a person diagnosed with celiac disease, treatment begins with a gluten-free diet for life. A gluten-free diet is the only diet that will treat celiac disease.
 

Understanding Why a Celiac Diet Is Gluten-Free

When people with celiac disease eat foods containing gluten, their immune system attacks their small intestine. This attack damages and can even destroy the tiny finger-like structures called villi that line the small intestine. Without healthy villi, which normally allow nutrients from food to be absorbed into the bloodstream, the body can't get enough nutrients no matter how much food a person eats. The resulting malnutrition can be a serious problem -- particularly for children, who need adequate nutrition to grow and develop properly.
 
A gluten-free diet for celiac disease is defined as one that excludes wheat, rye, and barley. These dietary grains contain the peptides or glutens known to cause celiac disease. Even small quantities of gluten may be harmful. Oats appear to be safe for most individuals with celiac disease, but their practical inclusion in a gluten-free diet is limited by potential contamination with gluten during processing.
 
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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