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Traditional Gluten Free Diets Fail

Traditional Gluten Free Diet Doesn't WorkResearchers give the traditional gluten free diet an F… In this study only 8% of the patients recovered from intestinal damage while following a traditional gluten free diet.
After a median 16 months GFD, 38 (8%) patients had histological ‘normalization’, 300 (65%) had ‘remission’ with persistent intraepithelial lymphocytosis, 121(26%) had ‘no change’ and 6 (1%) had ‘deterioration’.


Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2009 Jun 15;29(12):1299-308. Epub 2009 Mar 3. Gluten Free Society's Stance Most gastroenterologists use the biopsy to diagnose celiac disease. Typically a repeat biopsy is taken to monitor how well a patient is healing while on a gluten free diet. This and many other research studies have shown that even when adhering to a traditional gluten free diet, patients don’t heal. As in the case above, only 8% of the patients had normal follow up biopsies after 16 months on a gluten free diet. The big question is why? The intestines are one of the fastest healing tissues in the body. Cell turnover is typically only about 7 days. That means that about once a week, the gut lining is replaced by new cells. That’s 52 new linings per year. This study shows persistent white blood cell infiltration into the gut lining for the majority of patients following the classical gluten free diet (wheat, barley, and rye free) for over a year. So what is it that is causing this persistent inflammation? Some would argue that it is gluten cross contamination. Some would say that the patients being studied were cheating on the diet (although the researchers ruled this component out). This failure to heal can contribute to disease even in the absence of outward symptoms as chronic inflammation is a precursor to the disease process (one of the reasons for the term “silent celiac”). So the ultimate question becomes – Is my “traditional” gluten free diet enough to restore my health? Research resoundingly says no! That being said, I recommend a TRUE gluten free diet over a “traditional” one. Replacing traditional bread, pasta, cereal, etc. with alternative grains is an exercise in futility because the alternative grains contain gluten proteins. For example, numerous studies have shown that corn gluten causes inflammatory damage in patients with gluten sensitivity… More on this topic coming very soon! Please leave us your feedback below.

37 Responses

  1. I have given up all grains now on the gluten free diet to see if that would help, but I am having trouble keeping up on B-vitamins, magnesium, etc. Leg cramps at night, racing, pounding heart in the mornings. I also can have no dairy, so its hard to get enough calcium. Makes me wonder where the end is, in this long journey.

  2. I’m leaving a reply too because my mental health isn’t where it should be. It got better going traditionally gluten free, then worse, then a lot better gong grain free, but now it has been a month and I’m not 100 percent. I’m complaining because I just feel like I should be 100 percent, and I’m not. Any further successes out there? Stuff besides what Dr. O has recommended, not to say that it hasn’t been life saving for me, it has, but there is still something not right with me and I’ve been following allll of Dr. O’s advice.

  3. I am really scared by this, but I know it must be true still. I am on alternative gluten free grains and still inflammed and in pain. I am on 15,000 IUS of vitamin D a day and 2 Vitamin B complex vitamins a day and still arent absorbing enough to help me from other side effects from this disease. I hate my disease.

  4. It took me about a year to recover fully after being diagnosed. Then, I was going grand, when I accidentally ingested gluten – this time, it took me two years to get better fully. I feel 95% now – according to research, a coeliac’s bowel and thus absorbtion system will never function “norally”; that’s why I class it as an AID, or Auto-Immune Disorder. It does get better, though, just stick with the diet. Get your eyes checked every so often, wrap up warm, take sun hols if you can. And eat regularly, otherwise weakness, low blood sugar levels occur. Even if there’s no risk of diabetes, the gene responsible for coeliac and diabetes is the same, we’re just the lucky ones! (It’s also more possible for diabetics to develop coeliac than it is for coeliacs to develop diabetes.) Anyways, hope this little bit helps, somehow.. Take care!

  5. For some of us, going gluten and grain free isn’t enough. Some of us are also nightshade free, cruciferous veggie free, and dairy free. Then, beyond all of that, many of us have candida issues to deal with, which is where I am at now.

    With all this, now we have found that my adrenals were too stressed by all these complications, and now I have to deal with figuring out how to get my adrenals back in shape.

    For some of us, it seems like a constant battle. I know many of you have said the same thing I say, “I am sick and tired of being sick and tired!”

  6. Robena…you can take Peter Gillham’s Calm magnesium powder…it will help you sleep and will diminish the leg cramps. I’ve been using it for a while now and it helps me with my running.

    Consider ionic minerals….it will be absorbed more readily. I take Eidon Multi Minerals with Silica and also their straight out Silica. I also take Peter Gillham’s Vitality liquid multi vitamin. Make sure you are taking a good Vitamin D supplement and a quality Omega 3.

    As far as eliminating grains…fill yourself up on fiber like chia seeds which are extremely satiating. I have 2 tablespoons ground up in water or almond milk first thing in the morning. Let it sit to thicken up and drink it down. Protein, healthy fats, and tons of fiber. Going grain free starts off as a challenge, but once you are two weeks into it, you will see it’s not that bad.

    I do struggle with eliminating quinoa, however. It is my understanding that quinoa is a seed. And so I still occasionally will have that. Take it day by day and see how I feel.

    Focus on positive things and not on the “feeling of being sick”—do what you need to on a physical level…but truly focus on what else is going on. It’s a blend. I have found that no matter how healthy and strict I eat, if I am an emotional mess, things just don’t get any better.

    You can get all these products listed above on I am not someone looking to make money off of it….just someone who spent a great deal of time in my life trying to figure out the road to drive on. I still look for directions all the time, but ultimately drive right into the answers.

    Best in health!!


  7. It takes some people years to quit making mistakes
    but most 3 to 6 months. You didn’t get sick
    overnight so you’re not going to undo everything
    overnight . I have been GF for 16 years but
    I still have other auto immune problems I am
    stuck with. My grown children have been GF
    since teen years and they are fine , my grandkids
    are 5,6 & 11 and have never had gluten. We
    need to focus on stopping the cycle. I am so
    glad my grandkids have not been put at risk

  8. I am so in need of more information. Johanna, my daughter (26) with Down’s Syndrome was dx about a year ago with Celiac Disease. It has been very, very hard for her. 8 biopsy, 2 surgeries, etc. Symptoms have lessened, but now I am wondering how she really is healing? Please send any more information you have on the guten on these other grains (corn especially) because that is what we have used instead of wheat!


  9. I am totally confused. I have been “gluten-free” since I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease July 1, 2011. I am in my 7th month. I had never heard of Celiac Disease. After only about 4 days on the diet (eliminating wheat, barley, rye, and oats), I felt like a new person. I didn’t know I was so sick (continuously lost weight for 6 months). All my problems cleared up (problems I had learned to live with). I have read a lot of books on the disease and have found out myself what I can eat and have gotten new recipes. I make my own bread now. I use corn products in my recipes, but I don’t feel any ill effects. Could it be that corn is safe for me, or am I having silent symptoms?

    1. Peggy,
      The simple answer is yes you may be having silent symptoms. Most people who have problems with gluten are “silent” for years and years.
      Simply put, corn has gluten. Most studies done on corn gluten find that it is detrimental to those with gluten issues.
      In my 11 years of treating gluten sensitive patients, I can say that corn is a major problem.
      It may be beneficial for you to watch some of the video tutorials on this site. The in-depth research can be found here as well.

      1. For 11 years this STUPID comment has been up here.


  10. My experience has been exactly like Peggy Novack’s (above). It has been almost 6 months that I started the gluten-free diet and the results have been remarkable. Even many things I’d never even considered might be related completely vanished and I feel like a new person. My mood and emotional state come to mind, also chronic back pain, rash, rosacea, occular rosacea and eye swelling… and everything else(I’m keeping a list). By now, I feel that I’ve grown keenly aware of even the smallest amount of gluten present in my system. I can tell when I’ve been contaminated in 30 min or so because it seems like the pressure/inflamation in my head (sinuses, gums; maybe even in my brain-I don’t know) alerts me to it’s presence and the experience seems to put me into something of a depressive funk. It happens almost always when someone else prepares food for me, even when i let them know what I can and cannot have. I continue to learn to be more careful and more discriminating but now it seems I am having a similar reaction to rice (another grain) and particularly high concentrations of it, as in pastas made from rice. But it does not give me the gastro intestinal issues (I lived with all of them for years) that wheat does. I wonder how those other grains are affecting me (and Ms. Novack)and if it is to the same extent as wheat, rye and barley because I’m sensing (internally) that it is similar but not exactly the same. Is it maybe like a milder strain of gluten or something? I wish I’d learned about gluten sooner; and thank God I learned how to conduct research in school because I know I stumbled onto a miracle and the doctors were no help at all. Mine should at least have a clue now since my results have been even better than those annoying little prednisone pills. They really did suck.

  11. The only truly gluten-free grains that I eat are Quinoa and Buckwheat.

    Corn and rice both have gluten… can’t eat those.

    Dairy — even the organic variety — is poison too.

  12. I am new to this challenge, for 7 years I have been searching to find out why my stride is gone, I walk like a drunk, use a cane now because of balance problems and numerous falls some real doozies, have a good chiropractor to put me back together, also does acupuncture, that is what has kept me moving, but I need more I thot I was safe giving up wheat,barley and rye, and using corn, now I feel that I am left with greens,seeds,nuts, and fruits, because I have all the symptoms of leaky gut and gluten is the cause or does a real number on it.

  13. Tadeu

    your story is my story. I would love to hear more replys of people who have depressive funks after eating gluten.

  14. I have been gluten free since April 2010, and have felt much better, but in the past couple of months, I have been feeling like I did before going GF. I don’t have the stomach pains, but the leg cramping and fatigue have returned. Maybe there is something to the corn and rice thing. I do eat alot of both. I will definitely look at this and talk to my GI in Feb at my next appt. So glad I found this site!

  15. Robena, don’t worry about milk. Best calcium comes from fruits and vegies.
    I might be gluten free longer than you all, I feel like a elder, haha.
    I’m turning vegan btw, I think it’s the best diet ever!!!
    Romanita, stomach pains I used to get that alot, If i don’t eat for a couple of hours with a empty stomach I get crams.
    Best of luck for my fellow mates!!!!

  16. Hello Everyone,

    I was recently diagnosed with celiac disease. My story is different because when I was just starting to eat food as a baby my Mother noticed bowel differences and I would throw up my food. She took me to the doctor and he told her no gluten. For the first so many years (I think until I entered school) she gave me a gluten free diet. However, at some point I started eating gluten and she thought I grew out of my allergy because I stopped showing signs of problems. So, even thou I was diagnosed as an infant I have been eating gluten products almost my whole life. I am now 42. I have had symptoms of gluten problems all my life. Everything from anemia, losing weight easily, joint pain, potassium deficiency, candida, to wearing of tooth enamel. Because my symptoms were so spread out no one ever tested me for gluten. It was when I thought I had an ulcer that I saw a GI doctor and he did the blood test and biopsy of the small intestine.

    Even though I haven’t been eating wheat gluten for a couple of months now, I don’t feel any different. I’m starting to wonder if I have allergies to dairy and if I am eating hidden gluten.

    I’m thankful I have come up on this site and I wish Dr. Osborne was in NY so he could be my doctor. I look forward to the comments from everyone as I find them helpful.

    1. Rachael,
      Welcome! Make sure you are on a TRUE gluten free diet, not a traditional one. Additionally, you would benefit from having food allergy testing and micronutrient deficiency testing performed. Watch the Glutenology video tutorials for more on these. Hope is not lost, hang in there.
      All the best,
      Dr. O

  17. please look into THE BODY ECOLOGY DIET by Donna Gates

    can be extremely helpful in restoring your digestive health by using probiotic foods & supplements

    perhaps it could be the final missing piece to your health puzzle!

  18. I had been suffering from digestive issues for years on end and the doctors could not figure out what was wrong with me. I brought celiac as a potential diagnosis to my doctor, and went traditional gluten free diet for years. I did not get well. I was eating rice, corn and soy. I saw Dr. O’s video on the internet, and eliminated all grains from my diet – and I am well now! Off all medications. I feel fantastic! God bless you, Dr. O! Your video changed my life. Just want to say THANK YOU SO MUCH!! Keep getting the word out. More power to you!

  19. I have a question: Are any of the spices or herbs in the category of “grass”? I cook with a huge variety of 62 spices. Things like coriander make me wonder if any of my spices are grass seeds. Does anyone know? I sometimes get cross-contaminated when I dine outside my home. I cook Indian food at home often. I just wonder if my occasional contaminations might in fast be a spice I use in my cooking. Any info appreciated! Thank you!

  20. Annie Thome,
    I know what you me I also have a daughter with downsyndrome (28) and was DX about 1 1/2 year ago.
    and it’s been hard for us also, because lots of times at least with my daughter I can’t even know what kind of pain she’s in let alone the doctors can’t seem to seem what’s her pain or where her pain if from. I’ve really been trying to keep her on a True GF diet but I think she’s had it so long that there’s something else and we can’t really pin point it. Also I’m sure she malnorished and I can’t seem to fit that into the budget right now, so I’m trying my best to give her what I think she needs since I have no one us to help up right now. My family things I am a Gluten freek right now and even thou my other children have some problems they won’t listen. So it her and me trying to work this out and the web sight has been a blessing, but financialy we’ll just have to wait for the test we need. I wish we could get together and talk sometime since we do have something in commen.
    Take care and God Bless,

  21. In March I tested HIGH for wheat and automatically went GF. I did not show any reaction to corn and have continued to enjoy my favorite food, popcorn that says on the bag GF. I guess since I’m still getting migraines popcorn needs to become a thing of the past, right? Living in WI we only have a short season where really good veggies are available, so I guess I’ll be buying a lot of frozen. I’ve been enjoying really good navel oranges. Why are they not advisable?


  22. Hi Annette, i am waiting to get into to see Dr.O. but have tested postive for gluten sensitivity. Popcorn was my every night snack> Every morning afterwards i would awaken with a severe migrane. So i started testing it… Yes corn, is gluten and makes me sick as all get out. So you will need to stop eating that as well? Sorry to break the bad news to you it’s been hard for me too!

  23. It’s such a shame that gluten free diets are the ONLY recommended “cure” (if you can call it that!) for people suffering from Celiac disease. More and more people are being diagnosed every year, surely something has to be done.

    I myself do live a healthy life using a diet but still get sick occasionally. I am going to be experimenting with various diet plans and recipes in the near future on my blog.

    I’d appreciate it if you came by and said hello 🙂

  24. I was diagnosed with CD in June. Ive been gluten free for a month now. I didnt even know I had this dieases since I experienced no sypmtoms from it. I found out I had CD through an GI endoscopy. I did have massive gas & bloating before I found out I had CD, but I blamed it on weight gain. Also, I had some minor back pain on my lower left side. I dont have much back pain anymore, but I cant seem to get rid of the bloating. My lower belly has shrunk some, but not a lot. Also, since going “gluten free” I have put on weight. About 5 pounds. Im not sure if Im responding to this new diet or if Im gaining weight b/c my intestines are healing & nutrients are finally making its way through my system. I really hate having this disease.

  25. WoW, I’m shocked to hear that most comments here are that of some serious issues even after being diagnosed, eating a gluten free diet. I’m curious to know how truely “gluten free” the diets are. I went to the Dr. 10 times and was prescribed pills, without them ever figuring it out, I did the research myself and realized after 2 hours that I have celiac. i immediately thru out all the food in the house and started over. It was about a week until I felt 100% after being sick for at least 4 years.
    I didn’t just stop eating gluten, I started eating only organic food and taking vitimins, working out, and learning about suppliments. One thing that helped was whey protien and
    the amino acid Glutamine. It helps repair the lining and the intestinal tract. I felt crazy before I change and went gluten free, i was agry all the time, had road rage, couldn’t consentrate at work, felt dizzy, had severe allergies, and had to run to the rest room ever 10 minutes!
    All that is gone! I sleep well, eat well and excersise, organic food isnt that much more because you stop buying junk,however suppliments can get expensive depending on what and where you buy tham at first,but when your talking about health there really is no price.

  26. Hi everyone! I have never had an actual diagnosis of gluten intolerance or celiac disease, which really is not surprising since the tests are wrong more often than they’re right.

    I had been sick my whole life until I found out about gluten. I immediately began following the traditional gluten-free diet, and saw considerable improvement.

    Hoping for more, I continued my quest for answers, and found out that the study that named wheat, barley and rye as the culprits in gluten intolerance was done on only 10 persons of similar genetic makeup. Believing that ten individuals was not a large enough sample group on which to gamble my health, I decided to go grain-free.

    It has taken more than two years for all my symptoms to resolve. Not every health condition can heal itself overnight – many of them require months to resolve.

    It has been so easy to do, and it’s entirely in my control: no prescriptions, no special foods, no medical procedures. With no other disease or sensitivity could I have complete control over my own health outcomes, but with gluten intolerance, I can not only prevent problems, I can also improve my health to its optimal level.

    It’s all within my control.

    I just eat healthy, fresh whole foods: healthy fats, meat and raw milk from pastured animals, organic veggies, and fruits. I avoid genetically modified foods, pre-packaged processed foods, and especially packages labeled “Gluten-free”.


    Here’s why: all grains have gluten, which our bodies do not tolerate. “Gluten-free” on a package does not mean it’s safe or healthy for you. Gluten-free packaged foods usually try to mimic wheat-based products, and none of them contribute to glowing health.

    Moreover, if a product requires a list of ingredients, it is probably contributing to poor health. If it doesn’t need a label (fresh fruits and vegetables) or if the label needs to say only what exactly it is, then it will likely contribute to good health.

    For those of you with dairy allergies, sesame seeds have more calcium by weight than any other food. But most Americans are not deficient in calcium. We have enough calcium in our bodies, but it has migrated to the wrong tissues as a result of chronic inflammation.

    Incidentally, a healthier diet will optimize your body’s systemic pH, which will slow down or stop osteopenia/osteoporosis. The body draws minerals like calcium, magnesium, and potassium into the blood stream to neutralize the blood’s acidity caused by the Standard American Diet (SAD), which in turn causes thinning of the bones.

    The calcium in the blood can then attach to cholesterol deposits wherever they have built up to heal damage (cholesterol is the body’s Band-aid, not the body’s bad guy), usually in joints and blood vessels, where the calcium can cause problems for you.

    We need to realize that it is our diet that has made us sick, and it’s our diet that can heal us.

    I thought it would be hard to give up breads, but I feel so wonderful and healthy that I wouldn’t trade how good I feel for the best bread in the world.

    Try going grain-free, get tested for other sensitivities if you can – the genetic testing that Dr. Osborne offers on his site is worth every penny – and give yourself time to heal.

    You can enjoy radiant health. It’s in your hands.

  27. Although I have been diagnosed with Crohns disease, it is based on bacteria getting in the cell walls of the intestines and generally presents as intestinal inflamation as the body attacks its own cells, recognizing them as enemies. My gut was severely wracked and I almost died from this. Repairing my gut from what the surgical center said was the worst condition they had seen(looked like a pit bull had had its way with my intestine walls seriously.) Both nutritionists and my medical doctor agreed on one particular item L-Glutamine, to repair the intestinal walls. It worked I haven’t had any flares since the first, over one and one half years ago and I am not taking any medications. I also ate a ton of sardines and eggs, olive oil, probiotics and eat as much fresh vegetables as possible. I still do all of that (though less sardines now that I am healed) And I take Selenium and N Acetyl Cystine to compliment the L-Glutamine and complete the triad of precursors to Glutathione. I have a celiac brother and maybe a gluten sensitive mother and I eat low carbs. But I am by no means gluten free and I am doing just fine. L-Glutamine seems to to be a common factor in many peoples recovery.

  28. Pingback: Anonymous
  29. This makes so much sense at so many levels.
    I think the driving force is to keep mainstream individuals reliant on the medical system and the financial juggernaut it is.
    eg – if the so called gluten free diet hasn’t fixed you, then you do not have a gluten problem, right, so conventional drugs are the answer, and conventional doctors and medical practitioners will cure you with over the counter symptom reliefs.

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