Those with celiac disease know what’s going on. We know about the damage that gluten can cause in our bodies. From flattened intestinal villi and nutrient deficiencies to a weakened immune system, low energy, and depleted serotonin levels, the havoc that gluten wreaks on our bodies is frightening and, in many cases, painful. If left untreated, it can lead to malnutrition, neurological and psychiatric conditions, and on the incredibly dark end, cancer.
So, how exactly is celiac disease treated?
For years, the mainstream medical cure-all for celiac disease was typically the recommendation of, and strict adherence to, a gluten-free diet. For those of who have stuck to that diet, the risk of gluten poisoning has likely dropped immensely. As long as you’re not putting gluten into your body, you’re in the clear, right?
The damage from celiac disease and the years of gluten intake before being diagnosed still hurts your body, even after you’ve adopted a gluten-free lifestyle. Unless, of course, you were diagnosed at a young age and have stuck to a gluten-free diet religiously. The lifestyle changes are just the first step. You need to take the proper actions to stop and reverse the damaging effects of gluten intake, too.
Healing Your Intestines
Yes. It is possible to heal the damage to your intestines that gluten intake caused. Full healing of your gut can take years, however. According to a 2010 study:
66% of the patients studied had a normal intestinal biopsy after 5 years on a gluten-free diet.
However, a 2009 study in The Journal of Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics claimed this:
Complete normalization of duodenal lesions is exceptionally rare in adult coeliac patients, despite adherence to a gluten-free diet.
The degree of intestinal damage varies widely among celiac patients, so some may find their intestines heal completely in 2 years; some may learn that theirs haven’t after more than 5 years. A gluten-free diet just doesn’t heal everyone, but the good news is that other options exist.
How Do I Heal My Gut?
Perhaps the biggest and most widely chosen option is to begin a digestive program that can facilitate damage reversal in the intestines. A program like this usually involves taking further steps to tweak your diet, as well as steps that remove gluten and other harmful things such as bacteria and yeast from your body. Then, a plan for replacement of good bacterial flora, essential digestive enzymes, hydrochloric acid, and vitamins and minerals is put into place.
There are quite a few supplements that may help heal your gut, including digestive enzymes, betaine HCl, probiotics, L-glutamine, and even special herbal preparations that may help heal your intestinal lining. All of these supplements are natural and healthy.
The Most Common Supplements for Healing Your Gut
1.) B-Complex Vitamins:
The absorption of essential B vitamins is always dependent on healthy villi and other friendly gut bacteria, but because celiac disease damages and flattens the villi, a B vitamin deficiency can occur pretty easily. As a result, B vitamin supplements are always necessary. A 2009 study in The Journal of Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics stated:
Supplementation with B vitamins improved the health of celiac patients already living on a gluten-free diet … adults living with longstanding celiac disease taking extra B vitamins for 6 months showed normalized tHcy (plasma total homocysteine) and significant improvement in well-being.
Because celiac disease and gluten poisoning usually causes marked fatigue, L-carnitine supplements are suggested. A 2007 study in Digestive and Liver Disease stated:
L-carnitine treatment was safe and effective in ameliorating fatigue in celiac patients using 2 grams daily for 180 days.
3.) Pancreatic Enzymes:
Over time, celiac disease causes damage to internal organs, including the pancreas. Pancreatic enzymes help keep the organ functioning properly. Many pancreatic enzymes contain dipeptidyl peptidase (DPP-IV), which specifically helps the pancreas break gluten down. A 2007 study in The Journal of Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics claimed:
Pancreatic insufficiency causing persistent symptoms in adults with celiac disease is reduced following pancreatic enzyme supplementation.
Does everyone with celiac disease use probiotics? No, but maybe they should. According to a 2009 study that appeared in Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, research has shown that using a probiotic might help heal intestinal barrier function. Because celiac disease causes inflammation, probiotics may even help with intestinal inflammation (to a certain degree).
This amino acid is normally absorbed by our gut lining, but because celiac disease severely damages the gut lining, glutamine deficiencies are fairly common. L-Glutamine supplements help repair the damage done to the gut lining, and they also help the lining regrow.
Decreasing Inflammation is an Important Step, Too!
Because it’s no secret that celiac disease causes all kinds of inflammation, it should also be no secret that when you decrease the inflammation, you better your chances of healing your gut. This might sound like a lot of work, but it really isn’t. Why? Because there are three healthy and all-natural ways to move the process along.
- Make sure you’re getting your daily intake of omega-3 fatty acids. When we ingest omega-3s, our body converts them into compounds that include resolvins, which are known to reduce inflammation. By reducing the inflammation of your gut, you’re helping it heal.
- Add ginger to your daily diet. Ginger has anti-inflammatory and anti-nausea properties. It’s been used for thousands of years as a natural way to calm the stomach and help with ailments such as heartburn. Even one cup of ginger tea a day can help reduce the inflammation of your gut.
- Reap the benefits of turmeric. Turmeric, a cousin to ginger, is packed with antioxidants and also has anti-inflammatory properties. Turmeric can be used in your favorite gluten-free recipes, so eat well and heal your gut.
There’s no cure for celiac disease, but you can (and should!) take the necessary steps to maintain an active gluten-free lifestyle and heal your gut. Have you healed your gut from the damage of celiac disease? Let us know how you did it in the comments below! We’d love to hear from you!