Gluten Intolerance Report: If you have Diabetes, Read This!

on Aug5
by Dr. Vikki Petersen | Print the article |

Celiac Disease and Diabetes have Common Genes

What we know genetically about celiac disease and diabetes is that they share a common origin – meaning that if you have one of the diseases, you are more likely to develop the other. But do genes tell the complete tale?  Since our genes are not easily changed, does it condemn those so afflicted to develop these diseases, no matter what they do?

Let me tell you about a recent research study and then I’ll give you my opinion…Mine is more optimistic!

A paper released today out of the United Kingdom detailed a study performed by researchers from the University of Cambridge and The London School of Medicine. The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation helped fund the study that analyzed nearly 20,000 tissue samples to look for genetic similarities between the two conditions.

The researchers found strong genetic similarities and wondered if the diseases might have a similar environmental trigger. An earlier study in the New England Journal of Medicine echoed that thought, raising the possibility that the protein gluten, already known to be the causative agent in celiac disease, may also trigger type 1 diabetes. [Hint: They’re correct!]

Both are Autoimmune Diseases

The two diseases may seem quite different: Type 1 diabetes causes the body to attack the pancreas, and blood sugar levels become dramatically affected resulting in a host of serious problems including blindness and amputations.

Celiac disease attacks the small intestine, compromising your ability to digest and absorb nutrients and it is responsible for creating over 300 diseases and conditions.

So what do they both have in common? Both diseases are autoimmune and therefore the result of a malfunctioning immune system. Your immune system is supposed to attack ‘bad guys’ like bacteria and cancer cells, not your own organs. But, unfortunately, that is exactly what occurs in autoimmune diseases in general and celiac and diabetes in particular.

While the researchers were surprised to identify seven areas on the genes that were shared by the two diseases, they agreed that more work was needed to pinpoint how the genetic and environmental factors combined to trigger the conditions.

Why are the Diseases Related? We May Already Have the Answer

What if the answer was already known? I’d like to present data from the research of Dr Alessio Fasano who hails from the University of Maryland’s Center for Celiac Research. Dr Fasano discovered several years ago that when he took rats who were strongly predisposed to develop type 1 diabetes and created within them a more intact small intestine, they didn’t, in the vast majority, develop diabetes.

To elaborate, these particular rats ‘always’ developed type 1 diabetes – they were inbred for it in order to research the disease. Yet when Dr Fasano gave them a substance to prevent a leaky gut (defined below) a full 2/3 of them did not develop diabetes.

A leaky gut is present in an unhealthy small intestine. It is too permeable (imagine a sieve with large holes when they are supposed to be very, very small) and thereby allows partially digested food and disease causing organisms such as bacteria, parasites and the like to leave the small intestine when in a normal small intestine they would not be allowed to.

The substance that Dr Fasano gave to the rats prevented a leaky gut, that is all.

When you put this data together with the study released today, it is clear that gluten IS a factor in the development of diabetes, not only due to the genetic link, but because gluten in the diet of someone who is gluten intolerant, has been confirmed to create a leaky gut.

Diabetes Successfully Prevented

The rats that Dr Fasano worked with were genetically ‘hard wired’ to develop diabetes -yet 2/3 of them did not. Therefore if genetics was ‘everything’ and it dictated what would happen to the body regardless of the environment, then all the rats would still have developed diabetes. The fact that they did not is very exciting. Why? Because we can change our environment, we can change what we put into our mouths and we can heal a leaky gut. Changing our genes is not so easy (and yes, that IS an understatement!).

There are over 100 autoimmune diseases.  While this study focused on celiac and diabetes, it could also have been discussing rheumatoid arthritis or multiple sclerosis or Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, just to name a few. Factually celiac disease and its trigger, gluten, is known to correlate with many other autoimmune diseases, over and above diabetes.

What Should You Do?

If you or any member of your family suffers from an autoimmune disease, I highly recommend that you be screened for both celiac disease and gluten sensitivity.  While there is much researching showing the correlation between celiac and autoimmune disease, the research is all but nonexistent showing the same correlation with gluten sensitivity. However, here at HealthNOW we see it with our patients often. We have had beautiful success with dramatically improving rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, Hashimoto’s and fibromyalgia, to name a few, in patients with gluten sensitivity, not only celiac disease.

Our experience leads us to firmly believe that any patient with an autoimmune disease in themselves or in their family would benefit greatly from an effective lab test that evaluated both celiac and gluten sensitivity.

Are You ‘Afraid’ to Find Out if You’re Gluten Intolerant?

If a small voice deep inside you answered “Yes”, I understand how you feel. It may seem overwhelming to eliminate gluten from your diet.

But let me assure you of something. First, the amount of improvement you will see in your health will completely dwarf any inconvenience or effort that being gluten-free requires. Second, as difficult as you think it will be, in hindsight I assure you that your concern is much greater than the actual reality of doing it.

How do I know? This is what I do. I work with many hundreds of patients and we have gone through this journey together. When it’s all said and done, the most common responses I hear are: “That wasn’t so hard.” and, “It was so worth it to find out.” “I would never go back to eating gluten – it’s poison for me.”

So, as I like to say to new patients, “Don’t over think it. Just get tested and if you’re gluten intolerant we’ll take it from there – one step at a time.”

I hope you find this information helpful. Please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have. HealthNOW is a destination clinic and we see patients from across the country and internationally. We are here to help!

To your good health,

Dr Vikki Petersen, DC, CCN
Founder of HealthNOW Medical Center
Co-author of “The Gluten Effect
Author of “Gluten Intolerance – What you don’t know may be killing you” – available on this website to all members!

Permission is granted to re-post this article in its entirety with credit to Dr Vikki Petersen & HealthNOW Medical Center and a clickable link back to this page. Dr Vikki Petersen, DC, CCN is founder of HealthNOW Medical Center and the author of “The Gluten Effect”.  She has been featured in national magazines, international medical journals and is a frequent headlined speaker

The Author

6 Comments, Comment or Ping

  1. Annette


    Hi there,
    I am 47 years old and was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes five years ago. I have a daughter who is 16 who had the Nora Virus a year ago. In June she was complaining about stomach issues, so I put her on a gluten free diet and had her checked for Celiac disease and it was negative. She continued to stay on the gluten free diet and it’s been working. She is an athlete and is very careful what see eats (all gluten free meals). In the last couple of days, here blood sugar has been low (76, 86) after her runs and high (130 – after 1.5 hours after eating lunch). Should I have her check for diabetes? What are your thoughts.

    05 Aug
  2. 4

    Hello Annette,
    With your daughter’s positive reaction to a gluten-free diet, her changes in blood sugar and your history of diabetes, I think it would be a good idea to get her evaluated.
    Please let me know if you require any further assistance. We are here to help!
    Dr Vikki Petersen

    05 Aug
  3. Madily stanly


    I have type 2 diabetes. My sugars have been running around 180. And when i wake up my sugars are at 120-140. I used to be worse. I am not taking anything i am just diet control. My last a1c was 7.3 My cholesterol has been 197 trig 172 hdl 43. blood pressure 109/76. I am also gluten intolerant, don’t know if i am celiac. I know that if i get glutened i get pretty fatigued and just don’t feel right. I just recently ate tortilla chips and i just don’t feel good. Made me real tired. Did i get affected by the corn tortilla chips? My vitamin d level was at 8.7 and i am now on vitamin d3 supplements… 5,000 iu with 100mg of calcium. What u reccomend i take on a daily basis? I also take a good gluten free vitamin. What other supplements shall i take to get better? I am trying to get better with my diet i don’t want to take prescrition drugs… cause they did almost kill me with metformin… also with glyberide they made my sugars drop into the 60′s. so i took half a pill. same thing… so i just stopped it.. u got any advice for me?

    05 Aug
  4. 6

    Hello Madily,

    I am unable to diagnose nor give specific advice, which can be construed as treatment, over the internet. I would like to assist you however. If you’d like, consider contacting us for a free health analysis. You can call us at 408-733-0400.

    05 Aug
  • Gluten Intolerance or Sensitivity and Prediabetes - Lower My Glucose - Jun 17th
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