DIABETICS ARE MORE LIKELY TO DEVELOP
I’ve benefited from the help of many dedicated physicians over the years. I’m thankful for their assistance & thankful to live in a society with great healthcare options, but I'm frustrated with one thing (well, I’m just talking about one complaint right now).
I’ve had Type 1 Diabetes for OVER 20 YEARS! I’ve been an ideal patient, watching what I eat, monitoring my blood sugars, going to regular appointments & undergoing the standard lab work. I’ve been under the care of numerous primary doctors & specialists. So, why in the world did it take almost 20 years for me to discover that DIABETICS ARE MORE LIKELY TO HAVE CELIAC DISEASE?
I’m not an ignorant patient. I’m constantly reading & learning about the advancements of Diabetes & what I can do to better my health. So how did this important piece of information slip by me? Shouldn’t this be something that every nutritionist, diabetes educator & endocrinologist discusses with their patients?
ABOUT 10% OF TYPE 1 DIABETICS
ARE DIAGNOSED WITH CELIAC DISEASE.
You may think, “It’s only 10%.”
Yes, but that’s only counting those who have been diagnosed with full-blown Celiac Disease, where complete damage has already been done to the villi of the small intestines. That’s not including the diabetics who have celiac symptoms without an endoscopy to prove an official diagnosis. You also have to take into consideration the number of diabetics who have gluten intolerances but don’t have complete damage to their small intestines, at least yet.
In one study involving patients with Type 1 Diabetes & Celiac Disease, 33% of the patients said they had celiac symptoms 5 YEARS BEFORE being diagnosed with Celiac Disease! (see: Frequent delay of coeliac disease diagnosis in symptomatic patients with type 1 diabetes mellitus: clinical and genetic characteristics.)
FIVE YEARS, PEOPLE! And these were diabetics, so they were already under the close supervision of physicians. Why weren’t those with symptoms advised of the link between Celiac Disease & Diabetes so they could try to prevent the development of full-blown Celiac Disease?
Something has got to change! It’s ridiculous that when someone is diagnosed with Diabetes (Type 1 or Type 2), they’re usually told that they can eat the same foods they’ve always eaten, just as long as they take enough medicine or inject enough insulin.
Most practitioners assume that newly diagnosed patients won’t want to abide by a strict diet, so they create sugar-coated guidelines. (Ha! That’s a funny pun!) They basically advise patients to continue eating the typical SAD diet (Standard American Diet). Shouldn’t diabetic patients be presented with all diet options & the possible risks of eating gluten? Then patients can decide for themselves if benefits outweigh the costs?
If nothing else, Insulin-Dependent Diabetics need to be informed of the increased risk of developing Celiac Disease. That way individuals can make an informed decision about whether or not to continue eating gluten. Not enough research has been done, but it’s highly likely that if diabetic patients (who have the gene for being predisposed to developing Celiac) avoided gluten they could dodge the Celiac bullet, or at least delay it. It’s only fair that diabetics are warned of the potential detrimental effects of gluten on their particular bodies.
ANOTHER ASPECT TO CONSIDER
Many people have what is referred to as Silent Celiac, Celiac without any obvious symptoms. When patients are initially diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes & Celiac Disease, approx. 90% report having NO gastrointestinal symptoms! Most have either mild or no symptoms at all to warn them of the damage that is being done to their small intestines! (see: Type 1 diabetes and celiac disease: The effects of gluten free diet on metabolic control)
One study in the UK found that 86% of Type I diabetics who were being studied initially reported having no symptoms, BUT when they went in for their biopsies to diagnose Celiac Disease, the percentage significantly dropped to 22%! In other words, suddenly the majority reported symptoms. (see: The Celiac Disease and Type 1 Diabetes Screening Controversy)
What this tells me is that when most people are presented checklists or are asked general questions by their doctor, they’re not likely to acknowledge having frequent diarrhea, constipation & gas, either because they’re embarrassed &/or because they think that is a normal part of living. Once they start thinking about the fact that they’re undergoing minor surgery, they get focused & start realizing all of the symptoms they’re actually experiencing.
The University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center estimates that 90% of people with Celiac Disease remain undiagnosed.
The goal of this article is to bring awareness to diabetics of potential gluten intolerances & to incite the medical community to perform early & frequent screenings of Celiac Disease. As with any disease, emphasizing prevention is key.
Thankfully, some experts in the field, such as Dr. Speiser, Chief of Pediatric Endocrinology at North Shore-Long Island Jewish Hospital, have advocated for annual celiac screening for patients with diabetes. Unfortunately, not all agree, as Destiny Stone describes:
“Doctor James L. Rosenzweig, an endocrinologist and associate professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine in Massachusetts, confirms that there is a well-known connection between type 1 diabetes and celiac however, he believes more studies are needed before he is convinced that more celiac screenings for pediatric diabetics are necessary. Dr. Rosenzweig said in his interview that more tests require more money, and the cost of screening for celiac can really add up.
While screenings for celiac may be expensive, the cost of medical bills for secondary medical problems as a result of undiagnosed celiac disease can be exorbitant, and possibly life threatening. At this juncture however, it is still a patients responsibility to advocate for themselves where celiac screenings are involved.”
9 INSIGHTFUL EXAMPLES OF RESEARCH
REGARDING THE DIABETES/CELIAC LINK
Type 1 Diabetes & Celiac Disease are both autoimmune diseases where the body attacks itself. It is well established that if someone has one auto-immune disease, they’re more likely to develop another auto-immune disease. We need to be asking why this is so common & what foods or environmental factors may be triggering these damaging responses.
Gluten may or may not be at the root of what’s causing Diabetes, but considering the strong correlation between Diabetes & Celiac, gluten intolerance needs to be at the forefront of Diabetes research. Thankfully some research has been conducted & some scholarly articles have been written in order to examine the link between Diabetes & Celiac Disease.
Reading the following titles & excerpts can give you an eye-opening overview of some of the research in this field. Click the links if interested in more details.
“Further analysis of the data suggests that viruses are not the sole trigger of type 1 diabetes in humans, and that wheat gluten may play a role in initiating the disease. Viruses may be the key environmental trigger in some cases of type 1 diabetes, and wheat gluten in others. Conceivably, some cases of type 1 diabetes might be caused by viruses and wheat gluten acting together as disease triggers.”
“…found that nearly half had an abnormal immune response to wheat proteins.”
“Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks the pancreas, the organ that regulates blood sugar. Dr. Scott’s research is the first to clearly show that immune cells called T cells from people with type 1 diabetes are also more likely to over-react to wheat. His research also shows that the over-reaction is linked to genes associated with type 1 diabetes.”
“Replacement of wheat and barley with poultry as the major protein source significantly affected diabetes development. Diabetes onset was delayed and diabetes incidence was significantly reduced in female mice that received the wheat and barley protein-free diet…”
“Moreover, a growing body of research suggests type 1 diabetes is triggered by exposure to gluten, the protein linked to celiac disease, adding even more weight to the theory that the two disorders share common genetic causes."
"Moreover, the report notes, the “results support further evaluation of the hypothesis that cereal and gluten consumption might be an environmental factor in type 1 diabetes.”
“Significantly lower levels of antibodies against several infectious agents were detected in the T1DM patients. These included Helicobacter pylori (P= 0.01), cytomegalovirus (P= 0.001), Epstein-Barr virus (P= 0.02) and Toxoplasma (P= 0.001). T1DM patients had significantly higher levels of IgG-anti-gliadin antibodies (P= 0.001) and IgG-antitissue transglutaminase antibodies (P= 0.03)...”
Do you need to get screened for Celiac Disease & gluten sensitivity? Then read:
POOP & SPIT!...THE BEST WAYS TO DETERMINE IF YOU’RE GLUTEN INTOLERANT