Gluten and the Autoimmune Disease Spectrum | Gluten-Free Society

Gluten and Autoimmune Diseases – Is there a connection?

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 confirmed and scientifically agreed upon 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.

Gluten & Autoimmune Diseases – The connection that needs more attention…

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.”

Speak your mind – if you have experienced the connection between gluten and autoimmune diseases, let us know about in the comments below…

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Gluten Free Warrior Commentary


20 responses on “Gluten and the Autoimmune Disease Spectrum

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  2. 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!

  3. Cara Cozine says:

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

  4. 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

  5. apiggott says:

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

  6. 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.

  7. S. Ehrlich says:

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

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. I also have scleroderma. I would like to also know if this would help. I went to Johns Hopkins in Baltimore treated it with cytokine and celcept but now its acted up again after 7 years. Back on meds.

  11. Michele says:

    I have had autoimmune hepatitis since I was 7; I’m 45 now. Does anyone else have this, and have you gone gluten free?

  12. Roberta Sedelmeyer says:

    Can’t respond as to an autoimmune disease, but since going gluten free a few years ago, I no longer wake up depressed every morning…..something I had suffered from for most of my life.

  13. Sylvie says:

    Hi, I am a 48 year old female. I have an intolerance to Gluten and lactose for the past 2 years and also have type 2 diabetes. In August of 2015 I was diagnosed with MS.

  14. Darlene Pagan says:

    My daughter has a condition in which her esophagus has severe spasms. We have gone to traditional doctors which “tried” to treat her but NOBODY has tried to figure out the route cause. By continuously monitoring her, we’ve noticed that when she is fighting a cold/flu, her symptoms/spasms completely go away until her body recovers from fighting off the bug, then her problems return. I’ve come to the conclusion that her immune system is attacking her esophagus (something no doctor has told us). She is so limited on what she can eat right now but I think if she drops all grains for a while she might see an improvement. What do you think?

    • Darlene,
      Sorry to hear of your daughter’s health issues. Going grain free will do no harm and possibly a world of good. Give it a try and let us know what happens.
      All the best,
      Dr. Osborne

  15. It Crumbles says:

    My generational family discovered we have gluten sensitivity (and possibly celiac disease) 3 years ago. My father was diagnosed by his dermatologist over 10 years ago with the autoimmune disease called Lichen Planus. My father lost his fingernails and had raw lesions on his scalp, and the doctors said there was no cure and didn’t know the cause. But, two months after my father stopped eating gluten (at the age of 77), his fingernails started to grow back! I wrote about this on my gluten-free lifestyle blog hoping to help others who might suffer from lichen planus. I wish traditional doctors would start listening to their patients. We are the living experiments right before their very eyes!

    Thank you to the Gluten Free Society for continuing to write articles that are affirming gluten sensitivity is real. Please keep educating all of us.

  16. Michelle Stapleton says:

    My 16 yr old daughter has been diagnosed with mixed connective tissue disease. I am exploring the possibility that she has a gluten allergy. Since an infant she has suffered from constipation. She was on multiple formulas as a baby. Thinking there is a connection between her chronic constipation and foods which may attribute to her mctd. Would really like to see more education on this topic

  17. 10 year widow says:

    My husband died 10 years ago of a condition called nocardia. It is something that you see in immune suppressed persons (AIDS which he did not have) and people who have had transplants. He had bowel problems but was never diagnosed as celiac or gluten intolerant. My daughter is gluten intolerant and we are wondering if her dad could have had either of these two conditions undiagnosed by his doctor which led him to be a candidate for this extremely rare disease. We could really use some answers….

  18. MichWenz says:

    Good article. I have RA, Sjogrens and autoimmune blood disorders. I can keep the flares away by avoiding glutens completely. If I cheat my joints swell up within 3-5 days. There’s just no way around the fact that I cannot eat gluten, it sucks since I love breads but it’s not worth it. I read another good article about how the wheat was genetically modified in the 1950’s and quadrupled the gluten proteins and that’s why disease is now an epidemic.

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