Celiac Disease, Gluten Intolerance, Or Something Else? How to Manage Digestive Conditions Naturally

Content reviewed by Donna Gates
Written by Body Ecology on May 11th, 2022

Bloating. Constipation. Diarrhea. Gas.

Is your gut giving you a hard time?

These all-too-common digestive symptoms can’t always be blamed on simple ‘stomach aches.’ Many times they are signs of gluten intolerance or celiac disease.

Whether the root cause of your digestive distress is celiac, gluten sensitivity, or something else entirely, there ARE steps you can take to begin healing your body and reversing autoimmune diseases and inflammatory conditions.

How Prevalent Is Celiac Disease & Gluten Sensitivity?

While celiac disease was once thought to be rare when it was discovered, current research now estimates that as many as 1 in 133 people in America (about 1%) have the disease, and up to 83% of people who have CD are underdiagnosed or misdiagnosed. Furthermore, the average time it takes for a person to be accurately diagnosed with celiac disease is 6-10 years.1  

Far more prevalent is “non-celiac gluten sensitivity” (NCGS), which is estimated to affect more than 6% of Americans.2 As more and more people are heading to their doctor with digestive complaints and a multi-billion dollar gluten-free industry is on the rise, the medical community is working hard to refine current diagnostic criteria and identification of biomarkers that distinguish celiac disease, NCGS, and other digestive disorders. 

What Is Gluten?

Gluten is the name for the proteins found in wheat, rye, and barley. It acts as a ‘glue’ and helps foods maintain their shape. Gluten is a staple in today’s modern Western diets, and is used in any processed foods as a binder or filler — meaning this culprit can be lurking anywhere.

If you suffer from celiac disease – an autoimmune disorder – you can’t enjoy a bowl of pasta without experiencing gut pain. This is because your immune system identifies the gluten as an enemy and attacks it while in your small intestine. These attacks have the unfortunate effect of damaging the tiny villi in the small intestine, the small fingerlike projections that promote nutrient absorption. When the villi are damaged, nutrient absorption is inhibited, which can lead to related conditions and diseases. 

Those who suffer from celiac disease, or) gluten intolerance can develop a variety of symptoms, including: 

  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Bowel movement changes
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Vomiting, especially among children

Discerning Between Celiac Disease and Other Gluten Related & Digestive Illnesses

Unfortunately, many people are misdiagnosed, since celiac disease symptoms tend to be similar to other digestive illnesses. 

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) often exhibits similarities with digestive pains, constipation and/or diarrhea, but it doesn’t originate from gluten exposure. Originally, IBS was thought  to be caused by a combination of eating irritating foods and too much stress However, newer research led by Dr. Mark Pimentel of Cedars-Sinai has identified food poisoning as a trigger for IBS. When food contaminated with toxins, such as salmonella, are ingested it damages nerves in the digestive system that are needed for healthy gut function. This research led to the development of the first blood test for IBS, which works by identifying antibodies to the toxins that originally triggered the condition.3 


Candida is a fungus native to the human body. The yeast can be found on the skin, in the digestive tract, or on mucosal surfaces. The quantity varies from person to person, fluctuates depending on diet and medications, and an overgrowth of candida is what triggers yeast infections. Candida symptoms in the gut, in particular, can be confused with celiac disease and may have similar symptoms, including constipation or diarrhea, gas and bloating, and intestinal pains. However, candida may be accompanied by other symptoms that can help your doctor diagnose the condition, including:

  • Feeling drained, exhausted, or “spacey”
  • Abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, or diarrhea
  • Signs of leaky gut, such as indigestion and heartburn
  • Mucus in stools
  • Vaginal itching, burning, or discharge
  • Bad breath
  • Foot, hair, or body odor not relieved by washing
  • Cramps or other menstrual irregularities
  • Headaches
  • Skin rashes, cystic acne, or psoriasis
  • Recurring ear infections

Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity & Intolerance

Next let’s take a look at non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) and intolerance. While many people hold the popular misconception that avoiding gluten and following a gluten-free diet is simply a healthier lifestyle, in reality many people do report feeling and looking much better after removing gluten from their diet — even after celiac disease or a wheat allergy are ruled out. 

One theory may explain why. 

Have you heard of FODMAPS? It’s an acronym for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols. Developed at Monash University in Australia, a low FODMAP diet is recommended for people who have IBS (irritable bowel), SIBO and SIFO. It’s not a “forever diet” but it’s been shown to help quickly relieve symptoms of abdominal pain, bloating, nausea, diarrhea and constipation. 

One of the FODMAPS is “Fructans,” which is found in wheat. In more than one study people put on a low FODMAP diet, who thought they had gluten sensitivity, had no reaction to gluten whatsoever as long as they avoided these FODMAPS. In other words, it may not be gluten intolerance after all, but most likely IBS, SIBO or SIFO.  

Body Ecology have never recommended anyone ever eat wheat or even complex carbs like rice and oats as you focus on conquering candida. In stage 2 complex carbs, prepared properly and eaten in small amounts, help restore a robust and diverse microbiome. This is where you follow the 80/20 rule. Combine a smaller amount of the complex carb (20%) with plenty of vegetables (80%). 

And taking it a step even further, we don’t recommend gluten-free flour products either– not if ideal gut health is your goal. When mixed with saliva and gastric juices the flour becomes a sticky, glue-like substance that is not healthy for anyone’s gut. Many of the gluten free cookies, cakes, crackers, pancake mixes, etc. are made with almond flour—which is very high in oxalates—making them important to avoid.

The Candida-Gluten Connection

A surprising connection that many people are unaware of is that between candida and gluten intolerance. A protein on the surface of the Candida albicans yeast cell called HWP1 is almost identical to the alpha-gliadin and gamma-gliadin — which are two proteins found in gluten.5 When there is an overgrowth of candida on the intestine walls, it signals an immune response to attack the candida. Because the candida protein is almost identical to that of gluten, the immune system also attacks the gluten as it enters in the small intestine, confusing it with the yeast. In a short time, this confusion causes a sensitivity to gluten, causing digestive symptoms very similar to those of celiac disease. 

It’s vital to be properly diagnosed so that you can get the correct treatment. 

But at Body Ecology, we believe all of these issues, whether candida, IBS, celiac or gluten intolerance have one thing in common: the need for a balanced, diverse inner ecosystem.

Managing Celiac Disease and Gluten Intolerance The Natural Way

One of the keys to naturally managing celiac and gluten intolerance is a balance of mostly beneficial microbes (good bacteria and commensal yeast) and very few pathogens in our inner ecosystem. Cocobiotic

But with 24/7 lifestyles and poor diets, most people have shifted the balancetowards too many pathogens.  But it’s never too late to change this. In fact, with each meal that consists of plenty of vegetables, and fermented foods and a few ounces of our probiotic liquid, your microbiome can quickly shift into one that will bring you much better health.

Maintaining a healthy inner ecosystem is simple if you eat a diet that follows the Body Ecology system of health and healing. While Donna Gates originally created the Body Ecology program to help heal candida, decades of reports from Body Ecology followers have shown that a gluten-free, casein-free, sugar-free diet of real foods (nothing processed) actually heals many other conditions as well. From IBS to celiac disease and candida, balancing your inner ecosystem is a must! It’s also the key to boosting your immunity, beautiful skin, balanced hormones and aging well.  

Start With This ONE Simple Step

If we had to recommend just one step that would help the most, it would be to incorporate fermented foods and drinks into your diet. 

A cornerstone of the Body Ecology system, fermented foods and drinks are full of the best and most natural form of probiotics that can help balance your inner ecosystem.

Become a Fermented Foodie at Home!

If you have any signs of digestive upset, you can help your body heal itself with probiotic liquids. A great way to repopulate your intestines with grain-loving (and therefore, grain-digesting) bacteria is by sipping just 2 oz. of Cocobiotic a couple times per day.

The good news is, your body was designed to heal itself! While the medical mainstream has led you to believe that once you have a condition, you must struggle with it forever, there is another way. Taking just one step toward rebuilding your digestive health each day, each week, each month or each year can contribute to restoring your health for a lifetime.


  1. https://www.beyondceliac.org/celiac-disease/facts-and-figures/ 
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5677194/ 
  3. https://www.cedars-sinai.org/newsroom/irritable-bowel-syndrome-mark-pimentel-md/
  4. https://www.thecandidadiet.com/gluten-sensitivities-and-candida/  
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