Gluten and Autoimmune Disease Information – A List of 10 Gluten-Related Autoimmune Disorders
Gluten has wormed its way into our modern diet and earned itself an unsavory reputation along the way. With the lost list of health concerns associated with gluten it’s not difficult to see how this one ingredient can wreak so much havoc on people with sensitivities and celiac disease. However, for those who already have autoimmune diseases or the potential for developing one, gluten may lead to future health issues. Kicking gluten to the curb can help your body heal and recover.
The Gluten and Autoimmune Disease Connection
An autoimmune disease is a condition where a healthy immune system begins to attack otherwise healthy cells within the body. There are over 80 different autoimmune diseases, many sharing similar symptoms and characteristics, making diagnosis and treatment difficult. But how does gluten link to the development of autoimmune diseases? What is the relation between gluten and autoimmune disease?
First, gluten can heighten the chances of flare ups in an autoimmune disease if you have not been diagnosed with a gluten sensitivity. It also increases your chances of developing one even if you’ve got a clean bill of health so far.
Research has shown that people who have celiac disease or those who suffer from a gluten sensitivity are at a higher risk of developing one of the autoimmune diseases listed below. These autoimmune diseases share a common genetic link with celiac disease, which itself is an autoimmune disease.
Celiac Disease and Other Autoimmune Disorders Related with Gluten Sensitivity
Celiac disease affects 1 percent of the population, while far more people may have a non-celiac gluten sensitivity. This means people who may not have celiac disease but currently have Type 1 Diabetes, can worsen their condition through gluten consumption lthough their celiac test may be negative. The following autoimmune diseases are linked to gluten intolerance and can be helped by kicking gluten from your diet.
***Note that many people have found great success in reducing the symptoms of their autoimmune condition by eliminating not only gluten, but all grains from their diet. According to Dr. Terry Wahls, all autoimmune diseases, not just the 10 listed here, can be effectively treated by embarking on a paleo diet where gluten and grains are eliminated.
Her diet protocol also entails eating vegetables in specific amounts and varieties to treat the disease. She has had unbelievable success with this and she herself, has gone from being in a wheelchair to successfully curing her own MS. You can find her book here: The Wahls Protocol: A Radical New Way to Treat All Chronic Autoimmune Conditions Using Paleo Principles.
10 Autoimmune Diseases Associated with Gluten Sensitivity:
The chances of having both celiac disease and type 1 diabetes together is 8-10 percent. That’s a strong argument against gluten! However, if you have only diabetes alone, ditching gluten can help you get a better grip on it. Common symptoms include increased thirst and hunger, tiredness, and increased urination. Check with your doctor about a gluten-free diet before making any dietary changes.
2. Rheumatoid Arthritis
Gluten has been linked to inflammation, so eliminating it from your diet can help ease the pain of rheumatoid arthritis. While many doctors and experts are not convinced that gluten is responsible for joint pain, RA sufferers who have kicked gluten to the curb have found otherwise. Forego the gluten to decrease your RA flare ups and experience more pain-free days.
3. Thyroid Disease
Your thyroid is the powerhouse that keeps your metabolism and immune system going. When gluten creeps in and leads to gluten autoimmune thyroid disorder, it can open the way to a world of health issues. What usually happens is thyroid hormones are mistaken for gluten and are attacked, leading to fatigue, weight issues, hair loss, or depression. Skipping out on gluten helps your immune system clear it away.
4. Vitamin B12 Deficiency/ Pernicious Anemia
Gluten does damage to the lining of the small intestines in those who have celiac disease. A vitamin B12 deficiency may occur due to this damage as this is one of the areas within our gut where this vital mineral is absorbed into our bodies. B12 is important for red blood cell formation. A B12 deficiency is more common than pernicious anemia, especially in those with celiac disease.
5. Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease in which the central nervous system is attacked, leading to vision issues, numbness, fatigue, movement issues, and other symptoms. Experts may still debate the gluten-MS link, however many patients have found respite from symptoms after giving up gluten. Studies have found a close link between celiac and MS, so going gluten-free can help in two ways here.
6. Addison’s Disease
Addison’s disease is a rare autoimmune disorder also known as chronic adrenal insufficiency. If you have celiac disease, you have a higher chance of developing Addison’s disease later on. While you may have already left gluten hanging a long time ago, Addison’s disease may still occur. It’s worth noting that you can develop another autoimmune condition just by having another one already.
7. Hashimoto’s Disease
Hashimoto’s is the most common autoimmune thyroid disorder. However in this case, the disease does not arise from the thyroid but from the immune system’s effect on the thyroid. Since gluten can cause extreme damage to your gastrointestinal system, that can do damage to your immune system. This only leads to a chain reaction where your thyroid works harder against your immune system.
8. Systematic Lupus Eyrthematosus
Lupus is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks health cells and tissue in various parts of the body. Giving up gluten can help those diagnosed with lupus, since it can easily be mistaken for healthy cells. Eliminating gluten from your diet and letting your body cleanse it from your system could help reduce flare ups and soothe symptoms.
9. Raynaund’s Phenomenon
Reynaud’s Phenomenon may occur along with other gluten-related autoimmune diseases. Spasms in the blood vessels of the hands and feet can lead to discolorations, along with numbness and tingling. It may be triggered by smoking or sensitivity to the cold.
Scleroderma is an autoimmune disease that results in a hardening of the skin. Avoiding gluten can help reduce inflammation from scleroderma flare ups as well as reduce symptoms. Since scleroderma happens on the skin, you should be mindful of finding shampoos, lotions, and other non-edible products that are also gluten-free, so as to avoid absorbing it through your skin or risk accidental ingestion.
If ditching gluten for life is the only way to find respite and relief from the symptoms of celiac disease, then it would only make sense that dumping it from your diet would lesson your chances of developing or worsening other autoimmune diseases you may worry about. Ditch the gluten and autoimmune disease connection!