Tuesday, November 05, 2013
A Gluten Free Diet Helps Type 1 Diabetes
It has long been understood that two autoimmune diseases, celiac disease and type 1 diabetes are related. They share common genes and the incidence of celiac disease is higher among type 1 diabetics. There have been some anecdotal reports regarding children diagnosed with type 1 diabetes who were put on a gluten-free diet soon after their diagnosis and for a period of two years or more didn’t require any insulin. The thought was that the gluten-free diet effectively halted the progression of the diabetes, at least for the duration of the study.
Studies of mice have shown that despite utilizing a genetic strain of mice that was strongly in-bred to increase the risk of type 1 diabetes, 2/3 of the mice did not develop the disease when a drug was administered to prevent leaky gut. This study was performed by Dr Alessio Fasano and his team. Dr Fasano, Director of the Center for Celiac Research and Treatment at MassGeneral Hospital for Children, is one of the world’s acclaimed researchers in the area of celiac disease and gluten sensitivity.
Leaky gut is associated with the initiation and continuation of autoimmune disease and Dr Fasano’s work with these genetically predisposed mice shed a great deal of light on the power of an undamaged gut lining to effectively forestall development of a genetic condition, in this case type 1 diabetes.
A study out of Immunology, dated August 22, 2012, is titled “Dietary gluten alters the balance of proinflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines in T cells of BALB/c mice”. The title is a mouthful but here is what the researchers out of Denmark found:
Their initial premise was based on the idea, as I mentioned above, that dietary modifications, specifically a gluten-free diet, could reduce the risk of developing type 1 diabetes. The question they posed was, “How did this occur?”
They discovered that wheat gluten induced the production of pro-inflammatory chemicals called cytokines that would damage the intestinal lining and immune tissues of the small intestine. More importantly, a gluten-free diet didn’t just neutralize the negative effects just mentioned, but it actually caused the production of anti-inflammatory chemicals that would provide protection for the immune system and gut. So, while gluten is a known bad guy, a gluten-free diet doesn’t just take the negative away, it actually induces a positive, healing response.
Clinically, we frequently see this with patients here at HealthNOW Medical. As soon as we meet a patient with any history of autoimmune disease, we quickly test them for celiac disease and gluten sensitivity via lab tests and a 30 day elimination diet. If we discover any negative immune reaction to gluten, we begin a strict gluten-free diet.
Happily, we often see stabilization, if not reversal, of their autoimmune disease. We support the gluten-free diet with our other protocols for normalizing gut permeability (healing a leaky gut) and strengthening the immune system. Taken together this program yields excellent results.
I hope you found this information helpful If you know anyone suffering from an autoimmune disease, please show them this post. Gluten could be a component in worsening their disease while a gluten-free diet could be a positive influence in their journey to improved health.