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Celiac Disease: Introduction to the Gluten Free Diet

Updated: Jan 26, 2023

What you need to know to start feeling better.

Celiac Disease is an autoimmune, chronic inflammatory disorder of the small intestine, which can affect both children and adults of all ages. It is caused by the ingestion of dietary gluten products by people who are prone to Celiac disease. Exposure to gluten causes the villi in the gut to become inflamed and damaged. Once the microvilli are damaged, digestion is impaired and the absorption of nutrients from food decrease. Because it is a multifactorial disease, and includes genetic and environmental factors, it can present in any age.ii

First-degree relatives of celiac patients should be screened for the disease, while keeping in mind that negative test results won’t necessarily guarantee that the they won’t develop celiac in the future, because this disease can be triggered by a gastrointestinal or viral infections, stress, surgery, pregnancy and childbirth. Celiac disease can affect many organ systems in the body, causing inflammation and a wide range of symptoms. Some symptoms may accrue rapidly and others gradually, and may be progress slowly or quickly, depending on the person. Some people may have “silent celiac disease”, which means that they don’t have any symptoms or very subtle/mild symptoms. Adults with undiagnosed Celiac can often suffer iron deficiency and suffer from anemia.

Common Symptoms of Celiac Disease:

  • nutritional deficiency: iron, B vitamins, D, zinc

  • fatigue

  • gastrointestinal problems: bloating, gas, abdominal pain, indigested food in the stool,

  • vomiting, diarrhea and/or constipation,

  • weight loss

  • join pain

  • muscle cramps

  • skin is bruising easily

  • itchy, and dry skin

  • feeling tingling or/and numbness in feet and hands

  • swelling of feet and hands

  • depression

  • instable mood

  • irregular period

  • infertility can affect both men and women

  • miscarriage

  • liver enzymes elevated

  • migraine, frequent headaches

Additional Symptoms that can Affect Children:

  • growth problems (delayed or stunted height)

  • behavioural problems, irritability

  • problems with concentration

  • problems with learning

  • postponed puberty

  • tooth problems (discolouration, and loss of tooth enamel)

Diagnosing celiac disease is a two stages process, involving both a blood test, and endoscopy with biopsy. When diagnosis remains unclear, there is a genetic test available. A gluten free diet can be started after diagnosis, but never before because this can affect test results.

Conventional/Medical Approach

The only treatment for celiac disease is to follow a strict gluten-free diet for life, while taking part in nutrients deficiency therapy, if required. Adhering to a gluten free diet results in improved health and well-being, and reduced risk of complications.

Diagnosed and untreated celiac disease can contribute to nutrition deficiency such as osteoporosis, anemia, neurological problems including seizures, infertility, increase risk of miscarriage, and increased risk of cancer, especially gastrointestinal cancer.

What is Gluten?

Gluten is a protein naturally found in some grains including wheat, barley, and rye. It acts like a binder, holding food together and adding a "stretchy quality".

Food that Should be Eliminated or Avoided


Reasons to Avoid

Grains that are not gluten free: wheat, barley, rye, bulgur, couscous

​Grains that contain gluten have to be eliminated from diet, because they cause the inflammation in the gut and damage villi in the small intestine.


Highly pro inflammatory, loaded with sodium, fried

Processed meat (bacon, ham, beef, jerky, sausage, smoked meat)

High in inflammatory compound, high in sodium

Modified food starch (corn, tapioca or potatoes)

Starch is usually modified by acid, heat or enzymes. Can be produced from a waxy maize, corn, tapioca, potatoes, or wheat. Can cause inflammation in the gut

Cow milk

Highly pro inflammatory, difficult to digest, contributes to accumulation of mucus in the body

White, refined sugar

Highly pro inflammatory, depletes B vitamins and immune support minerals, such as zinc, and reduces body capacity to absorb and digest glucose


​Pro inflammatory, partially hydrogenated fats

Food that Should be Added to the Diet

  • anti-inflammatory foods (helps reduce inflammation in small intestine)

  • food rich in probiotic and prebiotics (supports microbiome)

  • fermented food (supports stomach acid production)

  • food rich in enzymes (helps improve digestion)

  • food rich in zinc (supports release of various digestive enzymes, in the intestinal tract supports enzymatic processes, supports stomach acid production)

  • food rich in fiber (helps support elimination, regulates bowel movements, maintains health of colon, reduces inflammation in the gut)

  • food rich in antioxidant (helps support immune function)

  • food rich in vitamins B’s (helps enhance the mucous membranes in the intestinal system)

  • food rich in proteins (they are needed to build and maintain all components of the immune system)

  • food rich in Omega 3 – fatty acid (helps reduce inflammation, support immune function, positively influence the diversity of the gut microbiome)

  • food rich in magnesium (supports normal immune function, tissue repair, supports nervous system, promotes bone health, controls blood glucose metabolism)

  • food rich in B6 (needed for red blood cells production, needed for metabolism of carbohydrates and detoxification)


Key Nutrients

Health Benefits

Quinoa (gluten free grains, high in protein and contain 9 essential amino acids)

  • manganese, phosphorus, copper, magnesium, zinc,

  • folate, carotenoids,

  • flavonoids quercetin,

  • protein,

  • fiber

  • offers anti-inflammatory benefits,

  • promotes overall health

  • supports gut health

Sprouted Alfalfa

  • vitamin K

  • carotene

  • calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, iron, phosphorus, sulfur, silicon, cobalt, chlorine, zinc

  • chlorophyll

  • Sprouting reduces lectins in the seeds and decreases intestinal wall irritation

  • high concentration of nutrients

  • reduces gut inflammation, support stomach acid production


  • vitamin C, K, folate, A

  • iron, calcium -antioxidant

  • detoxification

  • reduces oxidative stress

  • improves liver and brain function

  • boosts immune function

  • supports energy production

  • improves iron absorption

Flax seed

  • minerals: copper, manganese, phosphorus, selenium

  • vitamins: B1, B2, B3, choline, folate

  • protein

  • fiber

  • Omega 3-fatty acid

  • Flax seeds can improve intestinal absorption of nutrients and support the digestive system because the fiber content.

  • anti-inflammatory

  • supports energy production (B’s vitamins)


  • minerals: manganese, cooper, phosphorus, iron

  • vitamins: B6, C, folate, A, B vitamins

  • fiber

  • protein

  • phytonutrients: caffeic acid, ferulic acid, betanin

  • anti-inflammatory

  • supports detoxification

  • supports gut health

  • improves digestion

  • supports red blood cell production

Fermented cabbage

  • probiotic (beneficial bacteria)

  • enhances mineral absorption,

  • improves immune system,

  • helps protect intestinal wall lining

Sweet potatoes

  • prebiotic (indigestible plant fiber)

  • prebiotic can help feed beneficial bacteria in the gut


  • ​Omega 3 Fatty Acids

  • vitamins B12, B6, B3, D, biotin

  • potassium, choline, iodine, phosphorus, selenium

  • Omega 3 positively influences the diversity of the gut bacteria, anti-inflammatory

  • Vitamin D boosts immune function


  • minerals: manganese, copper, selenium, phosphorus, calcium, zinc

  • vitamins: vitamin B6, C, B1

  • fiber

  • protein

  • sulfur

  • improves immunity

  • anti-inflammatory

  • lowers oxidative stress

  • antibacterial and antiviral

  • prebiotic food

  • supports and stimulates the growth of pre-existing good bacteria

  • improves microbiome


  • minerals: magnesium, potassium, copper

  • vitamins: C, folate, A

  • carotenoids

  • fiber

  • Omega 3 Fatty Acid

  • protein

  • digestive enzymes -papain

  • improves digestion

  • improves gut health

  • anti-inflammatory

  • supports immune system


Against all Grain. Cookbook by Daniel Walker. (Recipe adapted – Dark chocolate cake Brownies)

Gluten Free the Definitive Resource Guide. Shelley Case

“Celiac disease: From pathophysiology to treatment.” Parzanese, Ilaria et al. World journal of gastrointestinal pathophysiology vol. 8,2 (2017).

Annette K Taylor, MS, PhD, CGC, Benjamin Lebwohl, MD, MS, Cara L Snyder, MS, CGC, and Peter HR Green, MD.


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