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  • Scott Adams
    Scott Adams

    Is there a connection between celiac disease and diabetes?*

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

    Of the many immune related disorders linked with the celiac condition, the best established connection is with Type I diabetes (mellitus). Type I diabetes occurs at a rate of about 0.5% in the general population, but at a rate estimated at 5-10% among celiacs. Normally the diabetes is diagnosed first, both because this form of diabetes tends to strike early in life and its diagnosis is certain. No connection has been found with the more common form of diabetes (mellitus= honey , from the sugar laden urine when uncontrolled), Type II which occurs at a rate of 2-2.5% in the general population.

    Like celiac disease, Type I diabetes is more common in those of northern European extraction. Like celiac disease, it is highly linked to the so-called HLA markers of the immune system, those marking white blood cells. Celiacs are likely to be positive for both HLA-B8 and HLA-DR3; Type Is are most linked to HLA-B8 and either HLA-DR3 or HLA-DR4. An English study about 6 months ago found that multiple genes were linked to Type I reflecting the fact that parents of a Type I are often diabetes free: the interpretation being that genes were required from both sides. The recent request for celiac siblings for a study of genetic typing intends to duplicate that one looking for celiac genes.

    References: Gluten Intolerance Group of North America newsletter, V. 13, Issue 2, 1987; New York Times, Sept. 13, 1994, genetics study by Dr. John Todd at Oxford, summarized by Kemp Randolph.

    For more information see our Related Disorders page.


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    I have been a Type 1 diabetic for 36 years. I was diagnosed with celiac disease and dermatitis herpetaformis three years ago. After having diabetes so long, my organs are tired and are giving up. My diet is extremely complex. No sugar, no fiber, no potassium, no phosphorus, low protein, and no wheat, barley, oats, and rye. Some people may also not be able to eat casein, soy, sodium, artificial salt, or salt substitutes. The Gluten-Free Mall has cookbooks for celiacs with adj. for diabetics and lactose. Hope this helps other people who also have every organ giving up. Best wishes in the life ahead of you.

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    I have had diabetes for 50 years and l got celiac 6 years ago, plus high potassium. I find it very interesting that these go hand in hand. No diabetes in my family, but my mother had celiac and now my daughter has severe celiac.

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    My husband has lost over 100lbs in less than a year and we just recently were told to try the gluten-free diet. It's helping, but his potassium level is still high, he's very thin and weak and he's not tested positive for diabetes although he drinks a ton of water and gets regular skin sores.

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    I have had diabetes my whole life and I`m only 11. I was recently diagnosed with celiac disease. I was curious about the connection. So I`m researching it.

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    I recently found I was type2, and while adjusting my diet I realized I had been gluten intolerant for an equally long time. I don't understand why diabetics go vegan. Look it up, there is no reason. Protein is one of the only things you can eat without diabetic or celiac reactions. for me it LOWERS blood sugar immediately. I have lost 20lbs since going Atkins. Protein controls hunger, I can stuff myself with veggies, but I'm never satisfied or full. Forget about trying different stuff so you can keep eating, before insulin, starvation was the best treatment for diabetes, and during ww2 starvation was good for the dutch. that's why they used to call celiac the dutch disease.

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    I recently found I was type2, and while adjusting my diet I realized I had been gluten intolerant for an equally long time. I don't understand why diabetics go vegan. Look it up, there is no reason. Protein is one of the only things you can eat without diabetic or celiac reactions. for me it LOWERS blood sugar immediately. I have lost 20lbs since going Atkins. Protein controls hunger, I can stuff myself with veggies, but I'm never satisfied or full. Forget about trying different stuff so you can keep eating, before insulin, starvation was the best treatment for diabetes, and during ww2 starvation was good for the dutch. that's why they used to call celiac the dutch disease.

    I've never heard celiac disease called the "Dutch Disease."

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    My daughter has just been diagnosed with Celiac Disease and am now researching everything I can about it. I developed Type 1 Diabetes at the age of 33. I am interested in the genetic factor. I have heard that a disproportionate number of Type 1s also develop Celiac. My understanding of this has been if you have one autoimmune disorder, then you are more likely to develop another one. I also have a Thyroid autoimmune disorder. I hope my daughter doesn't develop another one.

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    I recently found I was type2, and while adjusting my diet I realized I had been gluten intolerant for an equally long time. I don't understand why diabetics go vegan. Look it up, there is no reason. Protein is one of the only things you can eat without diabetic or celiac reactions. for me it LOWERS blood sugar immediately. I have lost 20lbs since going Atkins. Protein controls hunger, I can stuff myself with veggies, but I'm never satisfied or full. Forget about trying different stuff so you can keep eating, before insulin, starvation was the best treatment for diabetes, and during ww2 starvation was good for the dutch. that's why they used to call celiac the dutch disease.

    One reason diabetics become vegetarians (I have type 2 but am not a vegetarian) is because of increased risk of heart disease and high cholesterol among meat-eaters. Meat is a great source of protein, but Atkin's may not be (and in my opinion is not) a good diet for diabetics because high-protein diets can speed up kidney damage -- and diabetics make up almost 44% of all kidney failures. I was on the Atkin's diet in my early twenties so I know how much protein is consumed while on it--I did lose weight, but there are many more moderate ways to achieve weight loss... ways that also give longer-lasting results. There are good carbohydrates and bad ones; it's not hard to tell the difference.

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  • About Me

    Celiac.com's Founder and CEO, Scott was diagnosed with celiac disease  in 1994, and, due to the nearly total lack of information available at that time, was forced to become an expert on the disease in order to recover. Scott launched the site that later became Celiac.com in 1995 "To help as many people as possible with celiac disease get diagnosed so they can begin to live happy, healthy gluten-free lives."  In 1998 he founded The Gluten-Free Mall which he sold in 2014. He is co-author of the book Cereal Killers, and founder and publisher of Journal of Gluten Sensitivity.

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