This post, Can Celiac Disease Go Away?” should not be construed as medical advice. It also contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosures for more information.
In this article I’m going to discuss whether or not celiac disease can go away – both signs and symptoms – as well as how you can put your celiac disease into remission.
I also discuss whether or not gluten sensitivity will eventually go away at the end of the article. Both disorders are on the gluten spectrum and share similar treatment options and outcomes.
Can Celiac Disease Go Away?
A lot of people ask me if celiac disease can be cured or will it ever go away. Unfortunately, the answer is no. Once you are diagnosed with celiac disease, you will always have celiac disease (unless a treatment option pops up down the road, more on that later).
However, while celiac disease won’t ever go away, it can be put into remission. Remission is defined as a decrease in or disappearance of all signs and symptoms of the disease.
I have talked a lot on my blog about how I healed my body from the damages caused by celiac disease. I even talk about how I put my celiac disease into remission in this article.
For people with celiac disease, remission means they have no signs or symptoms of celiac disease. It doesn’t mean they are cured or no longer have celiac disease. There is a big difference that is worth clarifying further.
Signs of celiac disease, for example, could be in the form of a positive celiac disease test. If you have celiac disease (and you’re consuming gluten), your immune system produces antibodies that attack the transglutaminase (tTG) antibodies. Remember, you must be consuming gluten in order for a celiac disease test to pick up tTG antibodies. You can monitor your antibody levels with this awesome at-home celiac disease monitoring kit.
Related Article: What You Need to Know about Celiac Disease Monitoring
Symptoms, on the other hand, are more complicated because there are literally dozens of symptoms – perhaps even hundreds of them – that can be tied back to celiac disease (or a compromised immune system).
Related Article: 8 Roaring Symptoms of Celiac Disease
Symptoms can be more difficult to put into remission because of the persistent damage done to the body as a result of undiagnosed celiac disease, perhaps something that has been going on for years without you even knowing.
Some of the persistent and damaging symptoms of celiac disease include:
(1) Nutrient Deficiencies: Celiac disease can rob you of your ability to properly absorb nutrients. Nutrient deficiencies can lead to all sorts of disorders, some which may be reversible or take years to restore.
Vitamin B12, for example, is considered an essential dietary nutrient. A B12 deficiency can lead several serious conditions such as anemia, nerve damage, and ultimately degeneration of the spinal cord.
According to this article published in the Foundation for Peripheral Neuropathy, a lack of B12 can damage the myelin sheath that surrounds and protects your nerves. This can lead your your nerves ceasing to function properly and enables such conditions as peripheral neuropathy to emerge.
Related Reading: You Can Fix Your Broken Brain
I’m not saying this will happen to you, but it is one of the many dire consequences that may occur due to impaired nutrient intake.
Personally, I have suffered from a mild form of anemia my whole life. I’ve always felt like I had low blood sugar (weakness) if I didn’t eat every few hours, and I’ve had to have Vitamin B12 shots on occasion. I never asked my doctor why I was deficient and no doctor ever posed the question to me to ponder either.
Related Article: 10 Facts about Celiac Disease Your Doctor Doesn’t Know
Also, undiagnosed celiac disease in children, for example, can result in what is called “failure to thrive.” A child might have short stature, something that is irreversible once their important growth years (puberty) conclude. Yes, undiagnosed and untreated celiac disease can stunt your child’s growth! This is why early detection is essential.
Related Article: 5 Reasons Why Early Detection of Celiac Disease is Crucial
(2) Lingering Gut Issues: Furthermore, celiac disease symptoms often result in roaring symptoms, mainly gut-related but not always. Persistent and painful bloating (feeling like your stomach is a hard balloon after eating), embarressing gas, constipation, diarrhea and urgency to use the bathroom are just some of the gut-related disorders related to unmanaged celiac disease.
I know, it’s not pretty to talk about (or live through), but these symptoms don’t and likely won’t reverse themselves overnight. The damage is done and your body has been living in a state of disrepair for likely many years (perhaps decades); only omitting gluten from your diet isn’t enough to heal your body, especially if you’re looking for quicker results (why live in pain longer than you have to?).
So let’s talk about what putting celiac disease into remission looks like – signs, symptoms and all!
Putting Celiac Disease into Remission
The first step to putting celiac disease into remission is to abstain from eating any gluten, even tiny bits of it found in food not prepared safely. It also means you must never “cheat” on your gluten-free diet.
I know FAR too many people who say they are gluten-free, but say “a little bit” doesn’t bother them, or they’re okay having a “cheat” day now and then. Oh how wrong they are.
Comments like that make my blood boil for many reasons:
(1) You Undo All Your Hard Work. When you eat gluten, you ignite the inflammatory fire inside your body. You may not feel it happening, but your immune system’s response is set to attack gluten at its source. The cycle of damage begins once again.
Sure, you may have healed your body by not eating gluten for years, but the minute you reintroduce gluten to your diet, the minute the damage starts to brew again. For some people, they’re slowly chipping away at their health, like a slow drip in your pipes. We all know that a few drips won’t hurt, but after months and years, that slow drip will cause some serious damage to your house!
And why bother being gluten-free if you’re going to “occasionally” undo your hard work? Just eat gluten if it’s that important to you, but don’t say you’re gluten-free and then eat gluten.
Related Article: 10 Reasons You Still Crave Gluten
(2) You Look Like a Fool. Honestly, when you tell everyone you eat gluten-free, and then you say, “Oh, I’m okay just eating a little here and there,” you look like a fool! How can anyone take you seriously?
(3) You Make Me Look Like a Fool. When you eat just a little gluten, and people see/hear you doing it, you are making it harder for the rest of us to be taken seriously. When people tell me their friend Todd is gluten-free but he eats a little gluten from time to time because “it doesn’t bother him,” I feel like they’re trying to tell me I’m too serious and uptight and I should be more like Todd. Grrr!
Remember, the longer you abstain from eating gluten, the more your body will begin to heal. It takes time and you should not expect overnight results or instant gratification. Healing your body doesn’t work that way.
When you have celiac disease and eat gluten, your body launches an autoimmune attack on your small intestine. These killer T cells attack gluten at the source and your small intestine becomes collateral damage.
The hair-like follicles surrounding the small intestine, and which are responsible for nutrient absorption, flatten, and you may have scratches or fissures all over your small intestine as a result of the chronic autoimmune assault on your gut.
The good news is that your body is programmed to heal when given half the chance. Stop eating gluten, you stop the attack in its tracks.
Interestingly enough, your small intestine is about as thick as the casing of a hot dog. It’s fragile, but it’s also one of the fastest renewing tissues in the human body. If you stop damaging it meal after meal, day after day, and you allow it to finally repair, it will.
However, I have noticed that a lot of people with celiac disease have been left with poor gut health as a result of that continued assault. That’s why I’d like to talk a bit more about how you might be able to speed up that healing process and fully put your celiac disease-related symptoms into remission for good.
Related Article: Don’t Cheat on Your Gluten-Free Diet
How Do You Know if You’ve Put Celiac Disease Into Remission?
A great way to tell if you’re gluten-free diet is working is to monitor your antibody levels (biomarkers). You can do it in the privacy of your home with this very helpful celiac disease monitoring kit.
If you’re following a strict gluten-free diet (like me), the test will not be able to pick up antibodies to gluten. This is good. It means your body is not making antibodies to gluten, after all, you must be eating gluten in order for your body to make antibodies to gluten.
If your test comes back positive, or you have elevated antibodies to gluten, take a hard look at where gluten might be still sneaking into your diet.
Restoring Gut Health Post Celiac Disease
The second step to putting celiac disease into remission is to work hard to restore balance in your body. Wouldn’t it be lovely to feel like your normal self again?
Think of it this way. If you’re stabbed in the gut with a knife, are you “healed” by simply removing the knife. No way!
Gluten is the knife. You remove the irritant that caused the damage, but you did little to nurture the wounds left behind.
I suggest you do a little nurturing to get your body back to feeling its “normal” self again.
To do this, you want to work to restore your depleted nutrient bank. You can do this by:
Eating plenty of anti-inflammatory foods. Focus on upping your daily intake of fresh leafy greens and pretty much any vegetable or fruit on the planet.
Limiting your meat consumption. Remember, meat is highly acidic and can create a slightly acidic ph balance in your body, keeping you feeling ill and ripe for disease to brew. A mostly plant-based diet has been proven time and time again to be superior for your health.
Addressing any nutritional deficiencies you have head on. After getting diagnosed with celiac disease, my doctor immediately checked my nutrient levels (and found I was severely depleted in Vitamins B and D). At the time my insurance covered it, but apparently most insurance plans won’t cover nutrient testing anymore because it’s considered “alternative medicine” and not “medically necessary.”
As you can see, insurance companies and Big Pharma are part of the problem, not the solution. They make money when you’re sick; they make little money when you’re healthy. Checking your nutrient bank from time to time may help you stay healthy and stave off disease – but who wants to cover that kind of test?
The good news is you can check your vitamin D levels with this at-home Vitamin D blood test, and your Vitamin B levels with this at-home Vitamin B blood test. It’s really easy to do and I just saved you from having to pay for a doctor visit just for him or her to tell you your insurance won’t cover a vitamin check-up despite it being essential for someone in your condition.
Taking a few supplements. I also recommend a few additional supplements, many of which you can’t make or consume enough of from food. Remember to consult your health care provider before taking any supplements (and read my disclaimers). Supplements I take include:
- A high quality fish oil. This is the exact one I take every single day. The science on fish oil and its role in controlling inflammation in the body is prolific.
- A potent daily probiotic. Look for a probiotic with 50 billion CFUs or higher. This will help populate your gut with beneficial bacteria on a daily basis and will more likely than not help you stave off disease. If you get sick often, your gut desperately needs probiotics, and anti-inflammatory foods. This is a good probiotic brand, and feel free to switch brands often to introduce new strains of bacteria into your gut. I feel like probiotics were a real game-changer for me.
Related Article: The Benefits for Probiotics
- Live stress free. Also, it’s important to take care of your whole body. Remove stressors from your life (they are negatively affecting your health, particularly your gut), and get plenty of fresh air, moderate exercise, a good night’s sleep, and lots of Vitamin L (love). When I started to really take care of my whole body, only then did I see my health improve and those pesky symptoms go into remission.
Is There a Cure for Celiac Disease on the Horizon?
There is no cure, but there are some promising treatment options on the horizon.
While this study is extremely preliminary, researchers from Northwestern University gave study participants nanoparticles. These participants were able to eat gluten with a substantial reduction in inflammation, and show “a trend toward protecting patients’ small intestine from gluten exposure.” You can read more about this specific potential treatment option in this article.
Related Article: Celiac Disease Treatment Options on the Horizon
Can Gluten Sensitivity Go Away?
Another question I’m asked ALL the time is whether or not a gluten sensitivity can go away.
The truth is, no, it can’t. Once you have it, you have it.
Related Article: How Do I Know If I’m Gluten Intolerant?
Dr. Tom O’Bryan, the foremost thought leader in the space of gluten disorders and author of The Autoimmune Fix (the best book I’ve read on the topic of gluten disorders), sounds off on whether or not gluten sensitivity is a lifelong affliction.
He says in an interview, “If you have the sensitivity to gluten—it’s a lifelong problem. You can’t be a little pregnant… it’s like that. The only grain we know of that’s lifelong is wheat. The immune system has memory b-cells and it makes them for wheat. We don’t know if the body makes them to any other grains, but with wheat we know it’s a slam dunk. It’s lifelong.”
The fact that your immune system has memory b-cells to wheat is eye-opening to me. Your body makes antibodies to invading pathogens like viruses, and these antibodies form memory cells that remember that exact pathogen so it can more quickly produce antibodies and fight off future infections. It’s why we get vaccines to deadly viruses. It trains the immune system to recognize and combat these pathogens more quickly.
So, if you have a gluten sensitivity, you have it for life. And when you eat “just a little gluten,” you reactivate those memory b cells and awaken the inflammatory fire dormant inside of you.
There is a Difference
Remember, there is a difference between putting the signs and symptoms of celiac disease into remission and curing celiac disease. Right now, there is no cure for celiac disease, and no, celiac disease cannot just go away. Neither can a gluten sensitivity.
However, if you remove gluten from your diet (and are serious about being gluten-free – no gluten, ever), and you take steps to replenish your nutrient reserves, keep your ph balance in check, and mind your gut health, you’ll be in a position to put all signs and symptoms of celiac disease in remission for good.
Does this work for everyone? No, but it works for the majority of people with celiac disease it works. And best of all, this approach requires no potentially harmful, potent drugs; just good old-fashioned common sense and food that nurtures your body, mind and soul.