Friday, June 29, 2012

Can a Gluten-free Diet Cure Type 1 Diabetes?


A new study revealed that a child with type 1 diabetes went into complete remission and remained that way for 20 months (perhaps more, but that was the duration of the study) on a gluten-free diet. No insulin was required and his blood values were normal.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease. By that is meant that one’s immune system mistakenly attacks a body part instead of a disease causing organism such as a bacteria, virus or parasite. The immune system is designed to protect the body from foreign invaders, it is certainly not designed to attack the body itself.

Yet, in the case of over 100 different autoimmune diseases, that’s exactly what happens. In diabetes the pancreas is the target, in celiac disease the small intestine bears the brunt of destructive immune forces, in rheumatoid arthritis it is the joints that are under attack, etc, etc.

Research has known for some time that there is a strong correlation between type 1 diabetes (typically diagnosed in children) and celiac disease. In fact the genetic components of both diseases seem to share genes. The correlation is so strong that some researchers feel that it is prudent to rule out celiac disease in type 1 diabetics.

Unfortunately I have found that all too often it is the diabetes and its treatment with insulin that gets center stage and celiac or gluten intolerance is either not tested or, even when found, is not given the attention it deserves.

I still remember two cases where the parent of the child stated that a gluten free diet was just ‘too much’ to cope with considering all that diabetes involved, diet-wise. While I appreciate that it’s not an easy lifestyle, I think if these parents had the study that we’re about to discuss to hand they might have been more willing to adopt a gluten-free diet.

Here are the specifics of the study:
Published just days ago in the British Medical Journal (June 21, 2012) from authors Sildorf SM, Fredheim S, Svensson J, and Buschard K out of Copenhagen University Hospital , the article was titled “Remission without insulin therapy on gluten-free diet in a 6-year old boy with type 1 diabetes mellitus”.

The patient was a boy aged 5 years and 10 months who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes but was not diagnosed with celiac disease. Despite a negative celiac test he was started on a gluten-free diet and within 2 to 3 weeks had no need for insulin. This is rather astonishing and certainly the only ‘treatment’ he was receiving was a gluten-free diet.

A lab test called Hemoglobin A1c was very high upon initial diagnosis, consistent with diabetes. With the addition of a gluten-free diet that number dropped to within normal range and stabilized, once again without any insulin.

Evaluated at the 16 month mark after initiating the gluten free diet, and again at the 20 month mark, the young boy was still completely stable with no need for insulin. The authors note that a gluten-free diet is completely safe and without side effects – That’s for sure. Other than the great side effect of stabilizing (can we say reversing?) diabetes!

The researchers summation was that a gluten-free diet has prolonged remission of diabetes in this patient and they recommend further trials be initiated.

This research is just a dream come true for me. The problem is finding these newly diagnosed children and then educating their parents and doctors. And the child in this study didn’t even have a positive celiac test.

Do realize that celiac testing is not perfect and due to its lack of sensitivity it can often miss the disease. So too there is gluten intolerance, which despite what some may think, I find to be related to autoimmune disease.

So while we do have a bit of an uphill battle as far as education goes, if we could get some pediatricians and endocrinologists to look at this data we could really make an impact.

Have you had any experience with this personally? I’d love to hear from you.

Also I would like to ask you to spread this information far and wide if you will. Imagine how beautiful it would be to ‘catch’ a child newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and reverse/stabilize it with a simple dietary change?

I truly believe it is possible (certainly the above study shows that) and the more it occurs the more likely we are to have clinicians adopt a policy of trying a gluten-free diet in these at-risk children. A gluten-free diet certainly poses no harm and when compared to the devastating effects of diabetes, I think we can all agree that the gluten-free diet sounds like an ideal treatment.

I hope this information was helpful. Please let me know if you have any questions.

If your health is not at the level you desire, please consider our offer of a free health analysis. Call 408-733-0400. We are here to help.

Our destination clinic treats patients from across the country and internationally so you do not need to live locally to receive assistance.

To your good health,

Dr Vikki Petersen, DC, CCN
Co-author of “The Gluten Effect”
Author of the e-Book: “Gluten Intolerance – What you don’t know may be killing you!”

28 comments:

Brooke Tigges said...

Does the child have to newly diagnosed? My daughter of 12 was diagnosed on Feb.27,2012. Can I start it now?

The HealthNOW Doctors said...

Hello Brooke,
Yes it's fine to start now. Do let me know how your daughter does. Make sure that you know all the hidden places gluten can be.
Feel free to visit my website at: www.healthnowmedical.com. We have a great page there.

Also let me know if I can be of any further help.

Lucky said...

Really you have shared nice information about Gluten Free diet. However, with more awareness and the increase of gluten in the foods that we eat, people have now become very conscious of the food they eat and the amount of gluten in it. Well thanks you for sharing nice information...

Anonymous said...

I'd like to know how Brooke Tigges makes out. This "remission" being talked about is extremely likely just an extension of what is known as the honeymoon phase - a time soon after initial type 1 diabetes diagnosis where the need for insulin is greatly reduced and, yes, even eliminated for a time. Even people who don't start a gluten-free diet can find themselves totally off insulin for a while during the honeymoon. The child in this study will be or already has been put back on insulin.

Mary F said...

Do you have any other success stories like the one written above? My son was just diagnosed with type 1 and my daughter and husband have celiac. I am confused how a gluten free diet can rid the body of whatever destroyed the insulin producing cells, please explain.

The HealthNOW Doctors said...

Hello Mary,

Here is a video I did on this subject. This should help as well.
http://www.healthnowmedical.com/blog/2012/07/03/can-a-gluten-free-diet-cure-type-1-diabetes/

Counsel Dew said...

I went into remission-without being glutenfree. What in the study means the lack of gluten caused/resultd in the remission?

Crohn's Disease is being treated with bone marrow transplants. I'd rather see killing an immune system, use stem cells to restart beta cells, & restart the immune system (from a donor without diabetes...).

I'd have to see why the researchers say the diet was responsible.

Counsel Dew said...

The link you states, "He started on a gluten-free diet after 2-3 week without need of insulin treatment." Am I to understand he was on remission for 2-3 weeks before starting the gluten-free diet?

That might be telling...

basilis said...

My 4 years old daugther diagnosed with diabetes type 1 on december 2012 . Before 2 weeks we start a glutein free diet and we are insulin free now. I dont know if is that hapened because glutein free diet or we are at the honey moon.

The HealthNOW Doctors said...

@basilis -
I'm glad to hear about your daughter. Now would be the perfect time to address all the secondary effects of gluten and perfectly heal her small intestine.

Let me know if you need any assistance. It would be wonderful to allow her pancreas' beta cells to stay intact enough to not need insulin.

Best,
Dr Vikki

Melanie King said...

I was diagnosed with IBS at 17 and am now 48 years old. I have been tested for gluten allergy once which came back negative. Over many years I have come to the conclusion that I am a coeliac. I went through 6 weeks of eating a high gluten diet just before xmas and was extremely ill but thought it worth doing to get a diagnosis. The blood test results came back negative. It transpires that I have now got type 1 diabetes after walking round with it for a few months untreated. It was an emergency admission to hospital with Ketoacidosis at Easter just gone that highlighted my diabetes. I wonder whether after years of a gluten free diet then the process of trying to diagnose coeliac disease may have triggered type 1 diabetes.

Melanie King said...

I was diagnosed with IBS at 17 and am now 48 years old. I have been tested for gluten allergy once which came back negative. Over many years I have come to the conclusion that I am a coeliac. I went through 6 weeks of eating a high gluten diet just before xmas and was extremely ill but thought it worth doing to get a diagnosis. The blood test results came back negative. It transpires that I have now got type 1 diabetes after walking round with it for a few months untreated. It was an emergency admission to hospital with Ketoacidosis at Easter just gone that highlighted my diabetes. I wonder whether after years of a gluten free diet then the process of trying to diagnose coeliac disease may have triggered type 1 diabetes.

momma v said...

Hello, Read this article 3weeks ago...son was diagnosed march 2013..type 1 DM. The Dr.'s said feed him what ever he wants, just measure out his insulin. I couldn't belive it...so I reaserched and being a medical student a wanted a clear understanding of the disease from a cellular level. I thought, if type 1 is related to celiac, why not treat it like celiac. So I started my son, 3 weeks ago on the gluten free diet. Instant results. Went from 14units of bedtime insulin to 0, dropping slowly,of course. Blood Sugar levels have always between 85 and 130..perfect for a child. Eats about 20-40 Gluten-free carbs each meal without insulin. A1-c dropped from 9 to 7 in 4 weeks. This is the cure!!!

Anonymous said...

just read this article today and wow! I believe it 100%. My 5yo son had elevated THS levels (really borderline), my pediatrician suggested gluten free, fluoride free diet and to just take him to a pediatric endocrinologist to make sure there isn't any autoimmune disease underlying. My pediatrician even told me, no specialist will want to put him on medication for such borderline results (my son's highest was 5.3, the limit is 4.3). I took him to two endocrinologists. First one had never heard of fluoride being the problem and the second one gave me totally a cold shoulder when I mention I took my son off gluten as my pediatrician advised. She even said she feels bad for my son!!! WOW. Needless to say, 2 months after being gluten free, my pediatrician tested his TSH levels and they were completely NORMAL!!!!! (3.59) my son has also been receiving chiropractic care - which made a huge difference also. I know this article is about diabetes type 1, but I do believe gluten is a culprit for a lot of health issues. I just wish my sister wouldn't be so stubborn about gluten, since she was diagnosed with diabetes in her 20ties. Thank you for posting this!

Anonymous said...

just read this article today and wow! I believe it 100%. My 5yo son had elevated THS levels (really borderline), my pediatrician suggested gluten free, fluoride free diet and to just take him to a pediatric endocrinologist to make sure there isn't any autoimmune disease underlying. My pediatrician even told me, no specialist will want to put him on medication for such borderline results (my son's highest was 5.3, the limit is 4.3). I took him to two endocrinologists. First one had never heard of fluoride being the problem and the second one gave me totally a cold shoulder when I mention I took my son off gluten as my pediatrician advised. She even said she feels bad for my son!!! WOW. Needless to say, 2 months after being gluten free, my pediatrician tested his TSH levels and they were completely NORMAL!!!!! (3.59) my son has also been receiving chiropractic care - which made a huge difference also. I know this article is about diabetes type 1, but I do believe gluten is a culprit for a lot of health issues. I just wish my sister wouldn't be so stubborn about gluten, since she was diagnosed with diabetes in her 20ties. Thank you for posting this!

Teo said...

My Daughter is 6 years old and I am from Greece And at December 2012 my doctor sead to me that she has a diabet type one . Yesterday I start gluten free and I believe that everything going to be beter!if something can help me send more informations thanks and hoot luk to all

Teo said...

I am from Greece and December of 2012 the doctor sed to me that my Dauther has diabet type one. I start today gluten free and I hope that everything going to be beter! Send me more information to help me! Good lake to all

Anonymous said...

I am a father of a 6 years old child! At desember 2012 doctor says to me that my child has diabet t1! I start therapy gluten free befor 3 days! I am from Greece! Send if you have more informations ! Thanks!!!

Fatcat said...

I know this is a weird comment, but its true. My dog has diabetes and gets insulin shots. we put him on a gluten free dog food a year ago and over the year, his insulin requirements have gradually been going down from 8 units twice a day, to 5 units twice a day which is significant. Since he got diabetes at the age of 12 years (and he's a dog, so this means he's elderly), I'm assuming its type 2.

Do you have a facebook page?

Angela Coles said...

we have heireditory gluten intollerance. I have two children with type 1 diabetes. One had been strictly gluten free for 1 1/2 years BEFORE developing diabetes, the other has been gluten free since before birth and developed diabetes at 5.
I so wish the gluten free diet was a great prevention/cure. But for my two children it very obviously wasn't

The HealthNOW Doctors said...

Dear Angela Coles,

I understand. I wish a gluten-free diet was the instant answer for all cases of type 1 diabetes. In young children if they are gluten intolerant and have a leaky gut, addressing those issues can lead to a stability of the diabetes and often little to no insulin.

Once again, not a guarantee, but the research in this arena is promising. Children at a young age often haven't completely lost all the beta cella of their pancreas and functionality can be restored to a degree.

It might be worth addressing those areas to insure that the leaky gut is addressed and the immune system is no longer overwhelmed.

If you need assistance, consider contacting us for a free health analysis - 408-733-0400. We are here to help!

Anonymous said...

Did they take into consideration that the "remission" could have been the honeymoon phase? Our son, and many others we know with T1D have needed less and less insulin immediately after diagnosis...we are nearly off of it; we know people who went completely off of insulin for a period of time after diagnosis. None of them did gluten free diets... it was the honeymoon phase. Eventually, their need for insulin returned...

Saskia said...

I am a dutch woman of 43 years old. 2 years ago I was diagnosed with diabetes type 1. I have felt very tired and without energy ever since. I have had a hard time getting used to the treatment with insuline. My bloodsugar went down, but I didn't feel any better.
I have two kids with celiac. I was tested too, but my test came out negative.
Since the symptoms I had didn't go away, I started a glutenfree diet two weeks ago. I feel better, more relaxed and more quiet and my bloodsugar went down a bit. I was curious if there were any research results about the connection between diabetes type 1 and celiac, and I was very happy to read your article.

However, 5 days ago I became very tired, a different tiredness then the lack of energy I felt before, more like the tiredness you can have at the beginning of a holiday after a time of very hard work.
Do you have any experience with this reaction?

The HealthNOW Doctors said...

Hello Saskia,
How are you feeling now? We do often see this reaction.
The tiredness could be because your blood sugar dropped too low. Sometimes when people w/ diabetes remove gluten they find that they need less insulin.
You also need to heal the intestine and normalize your immune system. I wish you lived closer.
Let me know if I can assist further.

Bronwyn said...

I have been a type 1 diabetic for 22 years now and no one ever commented that celiac was related - I now have hypothyroisism and asthma too. I started a gluten free dairy free diet 4 weeks ago and I no longer get asthma, my blood sugars have dropped and I feel better. Things are not perfect yet and over Christmas I did get cross contaminated and all the symptoms came back - I needed the cortisone inhaler again for the asthma and my sugar levels rose despite still eating a very low carbohydrate diet. I don't think that type 1 diabetes is as simple as doctors would like to think and its connection with other diseases should be studied more.

Olivier C said...

Hello and sorry for my very bad english.

I am French, with a diet without corn, gluten and related workers, dairy-free since 2000 (regime "Seignalet"), after many health problems, which had also allowed me to reduce the amount of insulin to a Type 1 diabetes at the age of 20 years old. Still no complication of diabetes over 33 years, insulin pump, physical activity but also the diet are responsible.
I campaigned unsuccessfully for doctors to try this diet to the discovery of type 1 diabetes in children, for all those whom he still islets of Langerhans.
I'm glad it worked elsewhere, just with glutenfree.

Is it possible to have new from Basilis ans Momma's chlidren? I hope they go well. Their amazing story is a very strong argument to push doctors to try.

Anonymous said...

hello, I'm glad to see a post about the damaging effects of gluten, my son was diagnosed type 1 March of 2013, within 3 weeks and after plenty of research I started him on a gluten free diet, even though the dietitian advised.... give him whatever he wants pizza, burgers, just dose him for it! he has been insulin free for over a year now, has a 1 C level has gone from 10 26, the doctors are amazed, and said he is passed the honeymoon phase, so it must be his diet... He is signed up with the San Francisco University Research Center and hopefully the message will get out, but I have had some roadblocks when trying to explain this diet and how well it worked on my son. Many parents feel that the diagnosis is the end & are ready to install the pump on their child!! I even had to switch doctors because I was constantly reminded that his numbers which shoot back up, & I was doing nothing special... Now with his new doctor's full support& backing us every step of the way we will continue on this gluten free diet and hopefully change the lives of a couple kids!
Victoria. ..Vacaville, ca

The HealthNOW Doctors said...

@Victoria from Vacaville:
Hello Victoria, we are practically neighbors!

I'm thrilled that you found a doctor in San Fran that will work with you.

You should be proud of yourself - sticking with what you know is right despite being given a hard time by other doctors. Kudos!

Consider contacting me for a free health analysis - call 408-733-0400. Here's why I'm suggesting this: You're doing so well with your son, I'd just like to make sure that we really heal his gut and settle his immune system down.

As you know with autoimmune disease, the immune system gets overstimulated and this can, later in life, lead to other autoimmune diseases.

I am in no way trying to paint a negative picture; you've done great. I'd just like to ensure, with some easy, safe steps, that all possible stressors have been removed from your son's system.

I'm here if you'd like.

All the best,
Dr Petersen