Harvard Health Letter

By the way, doctor: Can I go back to eating wheat once my celiac disease is under control?

Q. I have a mild case of celiac disease. Do the villi ever recover after wheat gluten is given up? I am really tired of gluten-free food!

A. In celiac disease, the gluten in wheat and several other grains triggers an immune response that attacks the villi that carpet the inside of the small intestine. The classic symptoms include abdominal pain, bloating, and diarrhea. Anemia, osteoporosis, and other conditions may occur because nutrients aren't absorbed properly if the villi are damaged.

Currently, the only way to treat celiac disease is to eliminate gluten from the diet. The answer to your question is yes, the villi do recover. But once celiac disease develops, the sensitivity to gluten is there for life. Even after a long hiatus, eating gluten again will trigger an immune response that can reinjure the villi.

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