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How long will it take to feel better on the gluten-free diet?

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Updated November 24, 2008

Question: How long will it take to feel better on the gluten-free diet?
Answer: The amount of time it takes to feel better on a gluten-free diet is different for every person. Sometimes people feel better right away, but sometimes it can take weeks or even a few months.

For one thing, it can take the intestines several months or even years to heal, especially in adults.

Furthermore, it can take a while to master the gluten-free diet, and it's almost inevitable that you'll make mistakes at first.

Many people with celiac disease have other food intolerances and food allergies. Lactose intolerance is a common side effect of celiac disease. As the intestines heal on the gluten-free diet. However, patients' tolerance for lactose-containing foods improves. But this too can take several months.

Vitamin and mineral deficiencies are another side effect of the intestinal damage caused by celiac disease. Untreated celiac disease has also been linked with depression, thyroid disease, diabetes and osteoporosis. Many patients will not feel completely well until these problems have been treated.

If you've been diagnosed with celiac disease, it's important to stick to the gluten-free diet even if you don't feel any results right away.

Source:

Green PHR, Cellier C. Medical Progress: Celiac Disease. The New England Journal of Medicine 2007;357:1731-1743.

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