Why Everyone with Autoimmune Condition Should Avoid Gluten

This is just my own personal opinion.  I am not a medical professional and this is not medical advice.   It may sound extreme for anyone with any autoimmune condition to avoid gluten.  But this article list some reasons and references as to why.

If not avoid gluten, then at least get screened for gluten sensitivity.  The article Reversing Autoimmune Disease is a Real Possibility writes and I quote

“If there is any autoimmune disease in your family immediately get tested for gluten intolerance. This is not just a celiac test but also a test for gluten sensitivity.”

It is true that autoimmune conditions can be caused by many other factors besides gluten.  However, gluten is of the things that can contribute to or exacerbate autoimmune conditions in gluten sensitive people.   There are ample evidence that many people with autoimmune conditions also have gluten sensitivity.

While there are tests that test for gluten sensitivities, false negatives are common — meaning that the test says you do not have sensitivity to gluten, yet you really are.  The test only tests a subset of antibodies and a subset of the type of gluten that people may be sensitive to.  It does not catch everything.   Also a antibodies blood test will come out negative even if you are gluten sensitive if you happen to not be eating gluten at the time of the test.

Since there is no way to know for sure if you are gluten sensitive or not, it is best to avoid gluten as there is a plausible mechanism for which gluten causes autoimmunity.

For gluten sensitive people who continue to consume gluten, gluten causes openings in the tight junctions in the gut.  This is known as a leaky gut, or increased intestinal permeability.   This means that partially digested proteins and foodstuff may leak into the bloodstream where they normal would not.

Your immune system see these as foreign invaders and initiates an inflammatory response.  Over time, one experience chronic systemic inflammation and eventual dysregulation of the immune system, which is what autoimmune conditions are.

In the same line of reasoning, even healthy individuals with no autoimmune symptoms may choose to avoid gluten as a preventative measure against autoimmune disease.

The short of it is that we know that autoimmune disease is characterized by an leaky and inflamed gut.  And gluten is one of the things that can inflame the gut.  Therefore, gluten can simply do no good.  And it is not like avoiding gluten is that terrible.  Our ancestors in the Paleolithic era didn’t eat gluten.   The Paleo diet and the “Gluten-Free Casein-free” diet some example ways of eating that does not include gluten.

Autoimmune diseases is when the immune system attacks own self.

  • Rheumatoid arthritis is when immune system attacks the joint.
  • Celiac disease is when immune system attacks the small intestines.
  • Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (hypothyroidism) and Graves’ disease (hyperthyroidism) is when immune system attacks that thyroid.
  • Type 1 diabetes is when immune system attacks the beta cells in the pancreas.
  • Lupus is when the immune system attacks the skin
  • Multiple sclerosis is when the immune system attacks the myelin sheaths of nerves
Many autoimmune conditions (such as rheumatoid arthritis) has an inflammatory condition.  NaturalNews.com reports on how gluten causes rheumatoid arthritis.

Some people consider autism an autoimmune condition (see New York Times piece) and autistic children have inflamed gut.  Many people treating autism are putting them on gluten-free (and sometimes casein free) diet.

Celiac disease it the prototypical autoimmune disease related to gluten intolerance.  Anyone with celiac must be off gluten for life — without question.   However, many other autoimmune diseases and conditions may have similar mechanism and therefore other autoimmune conditions may benefit from a gluten-free diet as well.
Examples where eliminating gluten improves autoimmune conditions:

More References:

  • Peter Osborne in YouTube video explains why blood test for gluten sensitivity may not be accurate.  Why gluten-free may not be free of gluten.  When other grains which is so called “gluten free” may still trigger same problems of gluten sensitivity in some people.
  • Dr. Lo Radio explains how gluten can affect thyroid.  She says that if you have a thyroid problem, 80% to 90% that you have an autoimmune condition.  She says “Gluten is the devil” and is one of the first things she takes out of her patients diet when they have thyroid issue.
  • Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride on YouTube talks about how she cured her son of autism via diet and nutrition.  She explains how gluten and the gut affects autism.
  • Article by Dr. Vikki Petersen Is Gluten Intolerance the Cause of Autoimmune Disease? says “A study from Italy showed that the longer gluten sensitive people eat gluten, the more likely they are to develop autoimmune diseases.
  • Dr. Rhea Parsons writes in Why I Eat a (Mostly) Gluten-Free Diet: “More and more research is showing a link between inflammation, autoimmune diseases and gluten sensitivity.”
  • Book: Thinking Outside the Pill Box writes “Most patients I see with chronic fatique syndrome, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease and various other autoimmune disease issues have gluten sensitivity as part of their problems.”
  • Book: Digestive Wellness for Children writes “The incidence of celiac disease is high in people with autoimmune disease including lupus, insulin-dependent diabetes, liver disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and Sjogren’s syndrome.”
  • Dr. Alessio Fasano says on the Chris Kresser podcast: “We don’t know what makes people sick with diabetes or MS, but it’s indisputable gluten, this strange protein contained in many grains, including wheat, rye, and barley, to be the culprit that leads to autoimmunity on that specific genetic background.”
  • HealthNowMedical.com: “research reveals that perhaps a vast number of autoimmune diseases may also involve an immune response to dietary gluten.
  • Book: Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms When My Lab Tests are Normal?  says “As is the case with most, if not all, Hashimoto’s victims, eating wheat and other gluten-containing foods only makes Hashimoto’s worse.”  Hashimoto is the most common autoimmune disease characterized by low-thyroid function.
  • Dr Susan Blum in her book The Immune Recovery Plan writes “if you have any autoimmune disease — not necessarily celiac disease — it is good to do the tests above, but if they are negative, you should still remove gluten from your diet, based on research showing a connection between gluten and many other autoimmune diseases.” [page 26]