Celiac Disease

Celiac Disease | The Paleo Diet

Hi Loren,
I recently started the paleo diet for a few reasons:  health, weight loss, and an answer as to whether or not I have celiac disease.

Question:   Is it okay to take vitamins and supplements, especially if they contain gluten, some form of sugar, etc?  I realize that my sleeping habits may improve, but right now I am taking easy to dissolve melatonin and ZMA to help me sleep.  I have had leg cramps for 51 years and have found that C Q-10 has given me relief.

Thanks for your book and suggestions.



Dr. Cordain’s Response:

Hi Emily,
Good to hear from you and thanks for your interest in The Paleo Diet.  Indeed, this lifetime way of eating will improve your overall health and help to promote weight loss.  Elimination of glutien containing grains (wheat, rye, and barley) will cause an end to symptoms you may have experienced relating to celiac disease.  Further a  dairy free, grain free, legume free and processed food free diet will also improve overall GI tract function, and you may also experience freedom from a variety of health issues that formerly may have afflicted you.  Definitely, read all labels in supplements and try to avoid any supplements containing wheat, soy, corn, yeast or any other grain, legume or food additive.

In regards to sleep, melatonin supplements may be helpful at first, but again make sure they are free of wheat, soy and other additives that are non-Paleo.  A long term strategy to improve sleep will not require melatinin supplements, as you body will naturally manufacture sufficient melatonin to elicit peaceful, long and uninterrupted sleep. Key dietary factors to promote restful sleep are theses: 1) eliminate/reduce salt from your diet in all forms 2) eliminate/reduce alcohol from your diet– particularly 3 hrs before you sleep, 3) eliminate milk/dairy/cheese from your diet, and 4) eliminate proceessed foods (refined grains, refined sugars, refined oils or combinations of these foods from your diet.  Finally, hard exercise (aerobic, weight lifting or otherwise) a few hours before you retire will defnitely promote peaceful sleep.


Loren Cordain, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus

About Loren Cordain, PhD, Professor Emeritus

Loren Cordain, PhD, Professor EmeritusDr. Loren Cordain is Professor Emeritus of the Department of Health and Exercise Science at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado. His research emphasis over the past 20 years has focused upon the evolutionary and anthropological basis for diet, health and well being in modern humans. Dr. Cordain’s scientific publications have examined the nutritional characteristics of worldwide hunter-gatherer diets as well as the nutrient composition of wild plant and animal foods consumed by foraging humans. He is the world’s leading expert on Paleolithic diets and has lectured extensively on the Paleolithic nutrition worldwide. Dr. Cordain is the author of six popular bestselling books including The Real Paleo Diet Cookbook, The Paleo Diet, The Paleo Answer, and The Paleo Diet Cookbook, summarizing his research findings.

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“11” Comments

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  11. Hi – slightly troubled by some of the comments here. I live in the UK and I think our approach to coeliac diagnosis is rather different. You absolutely must get tested with a biopsy and after eating a “normal” gluten containing diet for 6 weeks at least to ensure accurate diagnosis. The consequences of not doing so are – that you could have something else that is aggravated by gluten but may still be an underlying problem and also, crucially, people with coeliac should not only avoid gluten but need to prevent against cross contamination in restaurants, at home etc. Just one crumb will have an adverse effect on those with coeliac vs those with a gluten intolerance. It is a genetic disease that occurs at the cellular level.

    The paleo diet is a great option for those diagnosed with coeliac as it is naturally gluten free and very healthy but you really should get properly diagnosed.

    Reading your comments about health insurance I am so thankful for our NHS and sincerely hope that the more US citizens begin to embrace healthcare reform.

  12. If we are following the paleo diet ( which we should all be) then there is no need to be tested for celiac. Just font eat wheat ????

    • You have to stay away from wheat, rye, oats, barley and all derivatives. (There are gluten free oats.). When you have Celiac (as I do) you need to read all labels because gluten can be found in so many foods. For example: The first ingredient in soy sauce is usually. wheat. Wheat is an ingredient in licorice. Many soups, sauces and dressings contain wheat. Malt is an ingredient that comes from barley. If it says “food starch” on a label, you need to identify the source of that food starch. Sometimes you can find the information on line, but sometimes you actually need to call the company. You really have to be the food police if you truly have Celiac, but the Paleo diet eliminates most of the offenders. Some medications and supplements contain gluten.
      Wendy Kupfer

  13. I’m not a proponent of getting a medical diagnosis for Celiac. I did 4 years ago an now I been denied for life insurance. I highly recommend that I’d you think you have celiac that you should modify your diet. There isn’t anything medically that can be done sow by get the diagnosis. Keep it off your medical record so tha tit doesn’t effect insurance.

    • there are other diseases that mimic celiac, get tested and know for sure….before i was diagnosed (by a biopsy, a quick and painless procedure) several dr’s treated me for everything from irritable bowel to spastic colon. everyone has different symptoms depending on how advanced your celiac is. i am pain free and symptom free for 15 years on the gluten free diet. the paleo diet is perfect for me!

  14. Emily,

    I was diagnosed with Celiac disease 23 years ago by a pediatric gastroenterologist when Celiac disease was considered to be rare.

    I recommend that before you eliminate gluten altogether from your diet, you should consult with a gastroenterologist and be tested for Celiac disease if you think that you may have it. You may have your blood tested, but it is my understanding that the best way for a doctor to determine and/or confirm whether a patient has Celiac disease is with a biopsy prior to going gluten-free, i.e. an endoscopy. Otherwise, it will be difficult for a doctor to confirm that the gluten which destroys your villi is the culprit if you have “healthy villi” on a gluten-free diet.

    If your doctor confirms that you have Celiac disease, then gluten should be eliminated from your diet altogether. Please note that there are numerous gluten-free supplements and vitamins available from which to choose.

    Best wishes,

    Dara Lynn

    • The only way to be tested with 100% certainty is through a biopsy of your small intestine done from an endoscope. The blood test is often times imcorrect.

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