An Autoimmune disease is when the body mistakenly attacks its own tissue, mistaking it for a foreign substance. The body produces an oversupply of auto-antibodies normally reserved for invading viruses, bacteria or parasites, to attack its own healthy organs or tissues. Someone with an autoimmune disease therefore produces antibodies to its own organs for example antibodies to the thyroid or to the pancreas in Type 1 Diabetes, or to red blood cells in Pernicious Anemia to the joints in Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Celiac Disease is also an auto immune disease. There is an abnormal immune reaction where the body mistakenly sees the proteins found in ingested gluten as a foreign invader. The area of the body that is attacked is the viili or finger like protrusions that make up the small intestine. In celiac disease, the body produces antibody- containing mucous that cause these villi to atrophy and prevent absorption of vital nutrients.
No one knows why there is this aberrant reaction to gluten, but cutting gluten completely out of the diet prevents release of these antibodies and allows the gut to heal. In fact it is one of the only autoimmune diseases that actually has a non- pharmaceutical and completely successful cure, as long as one remains gluten-free.
It is still unclear what the trigger is for this unusual phenomenon of autoimmune disease, but it seems to be more and more common and more and more prevalent. One of the possible culprits could be gluten. Latest research on the subject reveals that gluten might be the trigger that sets off the process in genetically susceptible individuals. Even though a virus or infection may lead to its development, gluten may have originally predisposed the individual to a possible autoimmune condition. This is very important if we are to understand the causes for all of these illnesses. It’s also interesting how many people have a low tolerance to gluten even if they do not have Celiac Disease.
Interestingly people with Celiac are diagnosed up to four times more often with Thyroid Disease than non Celiacs. It appears to be that left untreated Celiac Disease appears to be a part of the process involved in triggering other auto immune conditions. It is very important for patients with Autoimmune Thyroiditis to be screened for Celiac. This may help prevent other autoimmune disorders from developing. Also research has shown that those patients produce no antibodies to the thyroid three to six months after remaining on a gluten free diet.
When the body attacks the thyroid gland causing it to be underactive, this is called Hashitmoto’s Disease.The treatment for this is synthetic thyroid replacement tablets. Anyone with undiagnosed Celiac Disease may have a problem with absorption of these tablets, leading to no improvement of thyroid function. Even though it is not clearly understood there is a definite link between the two auto immune conditions of Thyroid Disease and Celiac Disease and gluten seems to be the common denominator.
After being sick and misdiagnosed for over 20 years, Yael finally found the cause of her constant pain, anemia, fatigue, fibromyalgia and digestive problems. When she was finally diagnosed with Celiac Disease everything changed. She was able to start her life again. There is not nearly enough awareness about this disease. So it starts here…