Does Gluten Cause Kidney Disease?

Kidney disease is an overlooked aspect of many patients with gluten intolerance.  In this recent study, protein leakage dissipated on a gluten free diet saving this patient from a laundry list of medications and side effects.  The authors of the study point out that gluten induced kidney damage can precede the onset of classic symptoms associated with celiac disease.

Proteinuria resolved completely following the initiation of a gluten-free diet, without the use of immunosuppressive therapy and despite tapering of angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor. This case illustrates that CS-associated MPGN may precede overt clinical evidence of coeliac disease and may respond to gluten-free diet, without resort to immunosuppressive therapy.

Source:

Nephrol Dial Transplant. 2009 Nov;24(11):3545-8.

Gluten Can Cause Kidney Failure

I have personally seen a number of patients recover from different stages of kidney failure using a TRUE gluten free diet as part of their treatment plan.  Most recently, a gentlemen in stage III kidney failure.  In this case kidney function was restored in less than two months after going on a gluten free diet.

Nutritional Advice From Doctors and Hospitals

Very commonly, kidney failure is associated with heart disease and diabestes.  The standard heart healthy diet recommendations are geared to high levels of whole grain intake.  Subsequently, many of these patients are instructed to eat a diet high in whole grains and low in proteins.  This combination is deadly for those with gluten induced kidney damage.  If you are not sure whether gluten is playing a role in your disease, get genetically tested for gluten sensitivity.

If you have kidney disease, including renal stones, make sure your doctor checks your 25 OH D levels (vitamin D).  Additionally, make sure that he measures for other nutritional deficiencies as well.   Malabsorption is a common cause of secondary diseases for those with intolerance or sensitivity to gluten.

All the best,

Dr. Osborne – The Gluten Free Warrior

32 thoughts on “Gluten Damages the Kidneys

  1. Kristine says:

    This is very interesting. My son was born with chronic renal insufficiency and now at 13 years old he has stage III kidney disease. I wonder if this may help him with his disease process. I did have my daughter tested and she does have HLA-DQ 2,3 (Subtype 2,9) which I believe makes her gluten sensitive, although her stool study did not show above range. I have Hashimotos also and think this could predispose me to gluten issues and perhaps my son as well.

  2. Sarah-Jane Martin says:

    I have autoimmune interstitial nephritis and was diagnosed with stage 3 kidney disease. My Mother is Coeliac and I was advised to go GF by a friend who was aware of the effect gluten could have on the body in someone who may be gentically pre-disposed to be….such as leaky gut syndrome etc. I had no symptoms of Coeliac disease but in view of my circumstances, I had no alternative but to try it – after all, the possibility of not having to have a transplant was very compelling. 2 years on and I have been discharged from hospital and my Creatinine levels just get better and better. Although my Consultant wasn’t interested in my GF theory for my improvement, my Doctor was very interested.

    • Eva Mosley says:

      Yes! My mother has Hashimotos, my younger brother has behavioral problems, and I am Gluten sensitive. We went gluten free about 2 years ago and we all have seen great outcomes. Especially my mother! I’m a big supporter and I believe your family should definitely try going gluten free for at least 3 months.
      -Eva

  3. Lorraine says:

    Very interesting. It’s terrible that most nutritional advice from doctors is to eat a diet high in whole grains. The very thing they need to avoid.

  4. Robin davis says:

    I have no Medical Insurance so I haven’t been tested but when I eat Gluten my body swells specially my legs and blisters feet sick to stomach what’s cheapest test I can take to see exact diagnosis

    • Maury Brooks says:

      The cheapest test is to stop all product with Gluten in the for a few months and see how you do. Carefully review the many products which have gluten since it can be in the great majority of supermarket products. Learn to use your intuition as a final guide.

    • Michelle Gowland says:

      The cheapest way is the elimination diet. You go Gluten free for 2 weeks. If you get better, your gluten sensitive, simple as that. Keep good notes for about 3 weeks on what you eat and your symptoms.
      Doctors call this a food diary. It’s very important for any allergist you see. And it costs you nothing at all but your time to do.

    • Amy says:

      If I were you I’d try the elimination diet. It’s the only test you need and it’s absolutely free. Eliminate gluten for a couple of months and see how you feel. Then reintroduce it to see how you react. That will give you your answer whether or not you are gluten intolerant 🙂

      Make sure you eliminate gluten 100% no cheating or it will do you no good at all. Use google as a guide for how to avoid gluten and find it in hidden ingredients. Learn how to read labels and never eat anything if you’re not absolutely sure whether or not it’s safe. Look out for words like flavorings, spices, MSG, modified food starch, semolina, wheat, barley, rye, kamut, spelt, malt & malt flavoring. Also beware of salad dressings, soups, sauces and gravies. Many contain gluten. Also don’t drink beer, commercial wine coolers and/or certain hard alcohols.

    • Aidan Doherty says:

      Hi Carol thanks for the info. My son has kidney failure but about to establish extent via GFR. He has drastically reduced gluten last couple of weeks with positive effect. In your case, by going gluten free, did kidneys eventually clear ??
      Much appreciated,
      Aidan

      • says:

        Aidan,
        I can speak to the impact of gluten on kidney disease. I have seen this correlation in a number of patients who had no other option or means for recovery. In short, kidney function does return, if the kidney dysfunction is caused as a result of gluten induced autoimmunity or inflammation.
        All the best,
        Dr. Osborne

      • Mary says:

        I have Crohn’s and my daughter has Celiac. My symptoms got markedly worse this past year, and my annual blood test showed disturbingly low GFR and high Creatinine levels – first time ever. I went off gluten, six weeks later was retested, and kidney function has rebounded, and even improved over previous results, all of which were normal. I don’t know if this is a coincidence, but thought I’d share.

  5. Pete says:

    Very interesting to see lately (2016) gluten may well be the cause of some CKD. I have had IgANepropathy (bergers disease) since 1993 (UK) and NOT ONE consultant or GP has ever been interested in why we have this disease or tried to delay onset to failure. This clearly shows we are on our own and the establishment (health servce and big pharma) is really only there to justify their own existence. Without sick people they would not exist. I am about to embark on a gluten free diet and I have no doubt it will have a big impact. I am already vegan, which I am sure has managed to delay failure for so long. Dont wait for someone else to save you, start fighting back yourself.

    • Marcia says:

      Hi Peter,

      I have had Kidney transplant 16 years ago because of Glomerulonephritis(focal segmentar). All went well until I started having Angioedema wich I had been sreened for by many doctors without finding the causa. Intuitively I cut out gluten and dairy from my diet and the alergic reaction subsided. About the same time I started having proteinuria again, wich has been rising since then. A few monthns ago I reitroduced gluten and dairy without reaction but within a few months I started having periferic oedema. I am off gluten again for 3 weeks, hoping to have my kidney function restored.

      • Eva Mosley says:

        To fully recover if you are gluten sensitive you need to STAY on a gluten free diet. Gluten sensitivity is usually permanent

  6. Suzanne says:

    My grandson age three who eats gluten free has developed a blockage in his kidney and peed blood. He went to dr last week and they found blockage but the specialist can not see him for two weeks. He’s been suffering with stomach pains. His mom just had a baby January and people were bringing in food everyone should know the whole family eats gluten free but is it possible some gluten was in their food that was brought and can it cause a blockage. Their daughter who’s five and also gluten free had a bout of stomach pain last week but is fine now.

  7. Sharon says:

    Here’s my story. History elevated creatinine for decade plus – thought to be due to NSAIDs over years w joint, back, muscle spasms. Celiac diag went GF (didn’t know how sick I was) and within 6 months creatinine back to normal. Stays that way for 3 years until dairy proteins followed by soy intolerance. Sick for year multitude of issues worsening kidney function. Missed – just discovered the soy in some Vit Ds – I was taking and one type of magnesium capsule. Good thing I had some visible symptoms like upper abdomen swelling, severe hair loss and vascular skin netting else they’d have considered me a head case. Can’t wait to see if this brings my creatinine and eGRF back to normal range. I see well-known nephrologist and former specialist noted I did not present like classic kidney patient – BP low to normal, no protein issue, no diabetes. We shall see if this is the missing piece to the puzzle. My cousin with minimal disease spilling protein tested neg for celiac doc had her try GF diet and protein issue cleared up!

      • Sharon says:

        Good news! Creatinine down as is cystatin-C, and eGFR coming back up from 40 to almost 60 after three months off soy that was in some of my vitamins. From that hit of a year many other symptoms resolved or are resolving. I am having slight issue with an old “friend” Candida – back on diet for that, decades ago on diet and nystatin for that.

        For me gluten after 3-4 years went to intolerance for dairy then soy proteins. I think the doctors are pretty amazed at the impact – reversible – full elimination of these has had on my kidneys. Nephrologist saw trend – had creatinine kidney function issues for years reversed for 3-4 years off gluten until dairy soy hit. When he saw his great I looked 3 months off soy he thought labs would improve and they did.

  8. Gail Schumacher says:

    I was told that I have kidney desease some years back. I stopped eating gluten and felt better. My creatinin level became better. Lately, I’ve been eating gluten once every week or so (I love turnovers). I am now having kidney pain, getting up more than once to use the restroom at night, and feeling terrible (I ate 4 turnovers in the past 3 days). Last night I ate two turnovers and my mouth developed a horrible taste right away, and I became physically shaky. I still have this bad taste in my mouth by this next morning— yuk! No more Gluten for me.

  9. Marisa says:

    Hi! Thank you for sharing this! My boyfriend has been having issues lately that all seem related to his kidneys and he also has celiacs and his mom has hashimotos and celiacs. I started to have a hunch and something made me type into google “celiacs and kidney problems”, and I found all these articles and then this page. Everything I’ve read so far seems very relative to him. I’m going to bring this up and have him schedule a doctor appt to get everything checked. He’s been eating gluten free for a couple years now, but I noticed you mention a “true gluten free diet”, so I clicked on the link and was just wondering what you’d suggest eating for breakfast. He usually eats oatmeal or granola or cereal or gluten free bread (made with the grains listed as not okay), or he makes pancakes with oats. Are they any grains he can actually eat? Also he loves rice, but always eats white or brown rice. Is there any you can recommend that he can still eat? Thank you so much!

  10. says:

    Hello from New Zealand Dr Osborne. My husband in his 60s was diagnosed in 2014 with prostrate cancer and underwent surgery. A month later they found he had proteinuria and FSGS focal segmental glomurolesclerosis. A few weeks later he started getting itchy spots on his arms which spread over alot of his body causing horrendous discomfit and 24/7 pain, itching, stinging, burning, bleeding but 4 years of continious searching has not found a diagnosis except for things kike scabies which it wasnt, folliculitis, fungal infections etc etc but no improvement with anything. They just kept calling it Nodular prurigo which is not a cause but a symptom but can be as a result of gluten the dermos brochure said but They never connected it to food. He presents as it being Dermatitis Herpetiformis but skin Iga testing came back negative as did bloodtests so dermatologists dismissed this but Ive spent all my time researching through yours and many other medical sites and Im not accepting their dismissal. Some testing for antibodies showed sensitivities and Dr Rodney Ford who we went to in Christchurch agreed he should be off gluten and had your book and Dr Perlmutters books on being Grain free and told us to follow your advice and cut out grains which we did. Weve been through so much in the last 4 years with these 3 conditions with alot happening that i cant fit in this forum. He has been on Paleo and gluten free diets and improves to a point but gets frustrated because his skin is still bad and goes of it so now Ive ordered your genetic testing to prove one way or another as I also think they are connected to gluten either by celiacs,or gluten sensitivites. Its interesting to read here about the kidney/gluten connection as I did read right in the beginning how FSGS was shown to improve with allergens taken out of the diet. Kidney specialist just thinks thats not a thing of course. His kidney function has reduced but is mostly stable GFR wise and I do think diet has helped there. Theres not much I dont know about DH and gluten so hoping things will be defined more with the gene test. We just want my husbands remaining years to be as normal and comfortable as possible as its been a nightmare so far. Thankyou for all your wonderful information Dr Osborne as its a scary lonely place when medical people tell you they cant help your own your own.

  11. Dh says:

    Ive read that IgA is associated with gluten sensitivity,
    but does anyone know if IgM could be affected by gluten sensitity? Thanks for any info.

  12. JANE GREGORY says:

    My Son 26 had stable CKD stage 3 unfortunately he got an infection 2 weeks agao and ended up in A&E then the renal unit with ESRD. He is now on dialysis as his creatinine shot up to 1470, after a few sessions it came down to 860. His kidneys are still working, he has no fluid retention and goes to toilet as normal.He has no other pain and feels ok. He has scaring from reflux nephropathy ( caused by infection 2011). I have him on gluten free now to try to reduce inflammation, ive got him off all diet drinks too, Should l be doing anything else to try to get rid of the inflammation ( Iga or glomeralnephritus both inflammation)?
    Any help well received.

  13. Katherine says:

    I had renal papillary necrosis and it was the worst, most painful experience I’ve ever had. I started seeing an acupuncturist for pain. He told me to get on a gluten free diet immediately. Soon the pain in my bones, muscles, kidney and kidneys went away. No more hives or bloody stool. No more brain fog or lack of sleep. After 3 months I felt better than I’ve ever felt in my entire life. (I attribute this to exercise, meditation and healthy eating overall as well). I went in for a cat scan and my kidneys 100% healed. I wake up every day feeling good and appreciate every moment of it. I discourage gluten for anyone having unusual health complications.

  14. Mike says:

    I have had lifelong celiac and lately noticed a kidney reaction when I inadvertently ingest some gluten. This confirms what I suspected. Thank you for doing this for us GF people.

    • John Patrick says:

      I haven’t had any issues with white rice. I believe it’s naturally gluten free. I eat white rice almost daily.

      • Lisa says:

        https://www.glutenfreesociety.org/guidelines-for-avoiding-gluten-unsafe-ingredients-for-gluten-sensitivity/

        TRUE Gluten Free Diet Guidelines – Avoid All of These (They Contain Gluten)…
        Wheat
        Barley (malt)
        Rye
        Oats
        Sorghum*
        Millet*
        Teff*
        Triticale
        Spelt
        Durum (semolina)
        Einkorn
        Emmer
        Corn (maize)* (for a list of hidden corn ingredients, go here <<<)
        Rice (does not include wild rice varieties but does include brown rice)*
        Groat
        Graham
        Amaranth***
        Buckwheat***
        Quinoa***

        *These grains are classically considered gluten free, but are not recommended on a TRUE gluten free diet. If you would like to learn more about why these other grains should be avoided, watch the following video <<<

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