A couple of days ago, Josh Gitalis, a former teacher I had at my nutrition school, shared an image of a research article from 1966 where 18 of 18 patients with rheumatoid arthritis had improved symptoms on a gluten free diet. I immediately posted it to my Facebook page. I already knew there was a connection between gluten and other diseases but I think I had forgotten the possible extent, and since so many people suffer from some of Celiac disease’s secondary illnesses, I figured this post could be useful.
Now, rather than just list off any and every possible connection with the disease, I am going to start with explaining HOW these conditions link to a gluten intolerance or Celiac disease. As an FYI I’m going to use gluten intolerance and Celiac disease interchangeably from this point on as both conditions involve gluten bothering the person.
In the simplest of terms, when the body believes you’ve ingested something you shouldn’t, it produces antibodies to destroy this ‘substance’. For some people, right off the bat, the body thinks of gluten as an invader, so begins producing antibodies against it; other times, from a consistently poor diet, or multiple rounds of antibiotics, or various other reasons, the gut is already damaged. If the gut is already damaged, which is called leaky gut syndrome, particles pass through the gut lining when they shouldn’t. These particles could be undigested food, bacteria, parasites, etc. Once again, whatever passes through here that shouldn’t elicits the body to start producing antibodies as it thinks it’s being invaded by these particles.
In an ideal world, the antibodies can tell the difference between an invader and the body’s own tissues; however occasionally, the molecules look similar, and the body mistakes its own proteins/tissues as an invader and attacks itself. This, my friends, is an autoimmune disease. When the attack happens in a localized area, it can breed various conditions. For example, in the joints, the result is inflammation and pain called Rheumatoid Arthritis. In the bronchials, it is asthma; in the thyroid, Graves disease or Hashimoto’s.
So where is the connection to gluten? Well, the best way to HEAL an autoimmune disease or at least keep it at bay is to HEAL and strengthen the gut lining so that undigested particles aren’t passing through it and causing an immune response. However, since gluten is something that so many people have a hard time digesting, it can continue to damage the gut lining, making it impossible for it to HEAL.
Here are some of the connections with a gluten intolerance or Celiac disease: