February 28, 2010

Gluten and the Autoimmune Disease Spectrum


New Research Links Gluten Sensitivity to Multiple Autoimmune Diseases

Research continues to link the autoimmune spectrum of diseases to gluten sensitivity.   In a recent study, gluten intolerance was found to be present in patients with multiple types of autoimmune conditions:

“Results of our studies revealed in the group of 110 patients with diagnosed gluten enteropathy, coexistence of autoimmune disease, such as diabetes mellitus type 1 in 7.2% cases, hyperthyreosis on 1.8% of cases, vitiligo in 0.9% of cases, primary biliary cirrhosis in 2% of cases and rheumatoidal arthritis in 0,9 of cases. In the group of 80 ulcerative colitis patients, coexistence of celiac disease basing on serological histopatological investigation was found in 4 patients (5%).”

A previous poston Gluten Free Society showed the connection between gluten induced liver disease (autoimmune hepatitis).  Now another new study points more autoimmune disease overlap in patients with autoimmune hepatitis.

“A total of 111 patients (40%) were diagnosed with additional autoimmune diseases…autoimmune thyroiditis was the most common concurrent disease (28 patients, 10%).  Other concurrent autoimmune diseases comprised vitiligo (5 patients), rheumatoid arthritis (5 patients), Sjogren syndrome (4 patients), ulcerative colitis (4 patients), conjunctivitis (4 patients), celiac disease (3 patients), systemic lupus erythematodes (2 patients), type I diabetes (2 patients), multiple sclerosis (2 patients), polymyalgia rheumatica (2 patients), and urticaria (2 patients). One patient each was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, autoimmune gastritis, collagenous colitis, hypophysitis, and sarcoidosis.”


J Clin Gastroenterol. 2010 Jan 15. [Epub ahead of print]

Przegl Lek. 2009;66(7):370-2.

Gluten Free Society’s Stance:

Although we have identified a number of environmental and genetic triggers for autoimmunity, the only known cause for any autoimmune disease in gluten.  When will doctors quit trying to micro analyze autoimmune diseases and look at the obvious connections?

Many autoimmune disease symptoms are so similar that the only way to differentiate them is by running specific antibody tests.  The problem with this is that the tests can sometimes be negative and sometimes be positive.  A common example of this is between rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.  For most patients two simple lab tests will determine which diagnosis is given(positive RF and ANA antibodies for lupus).

Treatment for most autoimmune conditions consists of steroids, DMARDS, and other anti-inflammatories.  Do doctors ever consider where the inflammation is coming from?

Why is it so hard to accept that simple dietary changes can improve disease and health?  The answer is simple.  Nutrition is not taught in medical school.  Most doctors devalue or dismiss nutrition because they don’t understand it.  Unfortunately this translates into more drugs, less real health care solutions, and sicker people.

Autoimmune diseases collectively are the number 1 disease condition in the U.S.  As the American diet becomes more and more processed, so too does autoimmune disease increase.  It is time to look at food a little more seriously.  As we have linked gluten sensitivity as a cause of celiac disease, we should turn our sites to food with the other autoimmune disease as well.  To ignore this is folly.

As the wise Thomas Edison put it – “The doctor of the future will give no medication, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, diet and in the cause and prevention of disease.”

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13 Responses to “Gluten and the Autoimmune Disease Spectrum”

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    This post was mentioned on Twitter by Glutenology: Gluten and the Autoimmune spectrum… http://www.glutenfreesociety.org/gluten-and-the-autoimmune-disease-spectrum/

  • Nicole Summers says:

    Wow! My son has been going through testing for over a year because they can’t understand why his blood cells change so much….even from week to week! They thought he might have leuchemia, but said he didn’t have any other symptoms just his blood levels!…………I’m going to let my md read this and see what he thinks………I’m glad I read this today. Thanks!

  • Cara Cozine says:

    You are doing a fantastic job hitting up all these great gluten related topics. Keep up the good work :) .

  • Sue Wild says:

    I was diagnosed with Coeliacs in 2007 and found out in 2008 i have a rare auto immune disease called interstitial myositis. muscle wasting disease.
    Thanks Sue

  • apiggott says:

    Hi, statred on gluten free diet this month, could I still use dried fruits to replace sugars or stop using all sweets?

  • Christine says:

    Does anybody know if gluten sensitivity can cause increased levels of testosterone and other male hormones in women? Would going gluten free help to bring them back to normal? Thank you.

  • S. Ehrlich says:

    You forgot to mention the known correlation between celiac and dermatomyositis, another very rare autoimmune disease.

  • S. Ehrlich says:

    And from our personal experience, it’s not only celiac. It’s gluten intolerance as well – negative for celiac, but sensitive to gluten, correlating with dermatomyositis and other connective tissue inflamatory illnesses.

  • Cheryl says:

    I’m 49 diagnosed with MCTD (mixed connective tissue disorder) including Scleroderma, Lupus, Reynauds, RA and more. My diet has always been poor consisting of mostly carbs. Has anyone with Scleroderma experienced positive results from going gluten free? I’m feeling desperate as I was diagnosed in 2004. I already have tightening of the facial skin and fingers.

  • mml says:

    I am very interested in identification of the genes associated with immune diseases noted in the diagram/infomation. Could you pleaase list the reference numbers of these genes? (the “rs# utilized in 23andme reports) thanks

  • Stanley says:

    Hi apiggott
    Be carefull with dry fruits. Most of them are coated with corn syrup. I found some dates that are really gluten free. Cranberry fron Ocean Spray are also OK but unfortunately they are transgenic.
    Good luck

  • Stanley says:

    Hi Cheryl
    I have six years experience looking for REALLY gluten free food for me and my family and running away from gluten. It’s not easy. Would be my pleasure to share these information with you. But I can’t do that one shot, because there is so many things to say. I’ll start with with a couple of councils. Make sure your husband didn’t eat gluten before kissing you. Make sure he brushes his teeth with a gluten-free tooth-paste (Arm and Hammer is the one I use). Make sure he uses dental-flossing before, and it must plain, no flavor, because usually flavors on the market carries some gluten. Peel all your fruits except if they are organic. Even in the last case you have to make sure they did not grow close to a corn or wheat field, make sure the grower does not uses corn gluten as herbicide, and so on…

  • Roxanne says:

    Hi there! I have vitiligo and I’m wondering if gluten free diet will help bring back my skin pigment loss? It recently came about after having my kids! I’ve been to doctor after doctor they tell me it’s an auto immune disease there is nothing they can do to cure it! I keep telling them there has to be an underlying problem as to why I have this! I tell them my mom has it as well they say ohh it’s hereditary! It’s driving me crazy that the doctors won’t help! So I have done a lot of researching myself! And have come to the conclusion that gluten free would be my best bet! Do you know of anyone with vitiligo that has gone gluten free and did they get there skin color back? Mine has spread so quickly! On my hands arms legs feet it’s every where! Do I need to increase my vitamin D? If so to what? Thanks again Roxanne!

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