Celiac.com 01/31/2017 - In my practice, I have had the pleasure and honor of helping hundreds of people reverse their diabetes and put their autoimmune diseases into remission. One of the many things that we test for is gluten reactivity. The research, much of which has been cited in our book on gluten, Lose the Gluten, Lose your Gut. Ditch the Grain, Save your Brain, clearly demonstrates the connection between gluten reactivity and most autoimmune diseases, including but not limited to: Hashimoto's thyroiditis, rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis. I intentionally didn't mention celiac disease, because, although it is very well established and accepted that gluten triggers celiac disease, what most don't realize is that those with celiac disease represent only a small percentage of people with autoimmunity that are impacted by gluten reactivity.
What's alarming and disappointing to me is how many doctors 'pooh pooh' the concept of gluten reactivity, especially among their chronically ill patients. Because of this disconnect, patients continue to suffer needlessly with chronic diseases that, with the removal of gluten from the diet, would in many cases, clear up or go into remission. Hundreds of my patients tell me that when they told their health practitioner they had eliminated gluten from their diet, the health care worker didn't believe gluten would make a difference, or that since they didn't have celiac disease, eliminating gluten wouldn't help them. All this was said in the face of autoimmune diseases going into remission, or diabetes reversing right before their eyes, following the elimination of gluten from their diet.
One patient in particular comes to mind when I think of this disconnect. I had the pleasure of working with a retired nurse who, in her seventies, had come to me with several medical issues. For purposes of this article, I will refer to her as Mary. Mary suffered with hypothyroidism, which we quickly discovered through additional testing, was caused by an autoimmune disease called Hashimoto's thyroiditis. Interestingly, it is estimated that roughly 90% of the 26 million people in the U.S. that have hypothyroidism actually have Hashimoto's. This is an autoimmune disease in which your immune system attacks and destroys the thyroid gland. The research, and our clinical experience, has demonstrated that gluten will cause your immune system to flare-up and attack the thyroid.
In addition to Hashimoto's, Mary also suffered with cardiac arrhythmia and she had a history of blood clots and strokes. She also had a long-standing issue with another autoimmune disease, called pleva, whereby her skin would rash up, itch and scab. Mary was very overweight, and exhausted all of the time. Mary had a full functional work-up in our office and she was confirmed, with testing, to be very gluten-reactive. After working with her for several months, with one very important instruction to go completely gluten-free, she easily lost over 40 lbs (with no additional exercise), her energy increased to the point where she stated she hadn't felt that good in decades, and her arrhythmia and pleva cleared up completely. Her cardiologist was ecstatic and her general practitioner told her to keep up whatever she was doing because she was so healthy now.
I hadn't seen Mary for almost 6 months when she emailed me one day to update me on something that had happened with her. She went to a food class taught by a vegan. At the class the guests were told very directly that eating gluten-free was a 'billion dollar hoax' and that eating gluten-free could be dangerous and bad for your health. Mary, even after all of her success, in part from going gluten-free, was suddenly doubtful of her diet. She tested it, and for 3 days brought back gluten-containing foods. She told me she reacted very badly and felt horrible. For Mary, the point was driven home that gluten-reactivity was a very real issue regarding her health. The difference in how she felt was like night and day. Lucky for her, she observed this first hand and immediately went back on her gluten-free diet before her skin disease and arrhythmia flared-up.
Whether one is a doctor, a nutritionist, or a regular Joe, making statements about any subject without having researched that subject in earnest, is unethical, and may even be harmful. We have done the research and have seen first-hand, with thousands of patients reversing everything from psoriasis to diabetes, that eating gluten-free, while very 'trendy' right now, is a trend that is solidly backed up by the evidence.