Frequently Asked Questions | About Celiac Disease

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Can a gluten-free diet help me lose weight?

A gluten-free diet does not necessarily equal weight loss and can result in certain nutrient deficiencies. A gluten-free diet is only recommended for those with celiac disease or other gluten-related disorders. If you think gluten is a problem for you, you should consult your doctor as soon as possible to find a diagnosis for you before starting a gluten-free diet. Once on a gluten-free diet, it becomes more difficult to diagnose or rule out celiac disease.

Are there any financial or government resources for people with celiac disease?

Yes, there are various tax deductions, unemployment benefits, and equal opportunity proections in public institutions (e.g., gluten-free school lunches).

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What does “gluten-free” really mean on a product label?

On August 2nd, 2013, the FDA ruled that for a product to be labeled as “gluten-free” it must either not involve any gluten-containing ingredients, or if it does have gluten-containing ingredients, the product must be processed to remove gluten and the final product must contain less than 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten. The FDA gave food manufacturers one year to comply with the ruling but encouraged them to comply as soon as possible.

If I have celiac disease but no symptoms, can I still eat gluten?

No. Even if symptoms don’t appear, the ingestion of gluten still damages the intestines and also increases your risk for various complications like cancers and osteoporosis.

What is gluten sensitivity?

Non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) is the condition diagnosed when celiac disease and wheat allergy have both been ruled out but the patient still improves on a gluten-free diet. A lot about this condition, like its pathophysiology, epidemiology, and treatments, are still unclear.



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Why do we need a cure for celiac disease if a gluten-free diet takes care of all my symptoms?

A gluten-free diet is currently the only way to treat celiac disease. Other treatments or a cure would not only improve the health of those with celiac disease but would also improve their quality of life in several ways:

  • Intestinal damage can fail to heal even under a gluten-free diet
  • Any failure in adherence to a gluten-free diet, accidental or not, increases risk for osteoporosis and cancers
  • Food labels can be complicated and misleading
  • It’s difficult to eat gluten-free, especially when eating at restaurants
  • Exposure to gluten can cause acute food poisoning in celiac patients
  • Gluten-free food is typically more expensive
  • It can be challenging to get all the nutrients you need on a gluten-free diet
  • Processed gluten-free products are often high in fats and low in fiber

When should gluten be introduced into the diet of an infant?

Research suggests that introducing gluten within the first few months can greatly increase the risk for celiac disease later in life. However there is also research suggesting that introducing gluten too late also increases risk of celiac disease. Right now there is no conclusive research that has determined when the best time to introduce gluten into the diet is to prevent celiac disease from developing. Be sure to always get the support of your pediatrician or dietitian to make sure your baby is getting the nutrients he or she needs.

Can I use products like shampoos or lotions that contain gluten if I have celiac disease?

Gluten must be ingested for it to be cause for concern for someone with celiac disease or dermatitis herpetiformis. However, we still recommend you avoid any products that have the potential to be ingested.

What is refractory sprue?

Refractory sprue or refractory celiac disease refers to an unresponsive case of celiac disease where the villi of a patient with celiac disease do not recover even after the patient stays on a gluten-free diet. For a diagnosis of refractory sprue, all other possible causes of the intestinal damage must be eliminated. Refractory sprue affects a small percentage of people with celiac disease.

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What triggers celiac disease?

There is no confirmed single trigger of celiac disease. It is thought that celiac disease requires three things: genetic predisposition, an over-responsive immune system, and individual environment. Environmental triggers include gluten itself, as well as other things such as length of breast-feeding and traumatic/stressful events. How strongly these environmental triggers relate to celiac disease is still being researched.