GLUTEN SENSITIVITY AS RELATED TO AUTOIMMUNITY
"The term gluten intolerance may refer to three types of human disorders: autoimmune celiac disease, allergy to wheat and non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS). Gluten is a mixture of proteins present mostly in wheat, but also in barley, rye and oats. It has been suggested that in NCGS gluten-related peptides enter the systemic circulation and cause extraintestinal manifestations such as ataxia, neuropathy and encephalopathy. Moreover, it has been proposed that gluten causes depression, anxiety, autism and schizophrenia in patients with NCGS, and also reported that psychosis might be a manifestation of NCGS. Nowadays, gluten-related disorders have often been recognized as commonly mimicking irritable bowel syndrome because of the similar symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, bowel habit abnormalities (either diarrhea or constipation). Furthermore, the microbiome may also play a role in the pathogenesis of NCGS. Gut microbiota composition and metabolomic profiles may influence the loss of gluten tolerance and subsequent onset of gluten intolerance in genetically-susceptible individuals. There is currently only one proven effective way of treating celiac disease and NCGS—a gluten free diet." Cherry-picked (as are all studies quoted in this post) from last month's issue of Nutrients (Properties of Gluten Intolerance: Gluten Structure, Evolution, Pathogenicity and Detoxification Capabilities)
"Approximately 50 million Americans, 20 percent of the population or one in five people, suffer from autoimmune diseases. Women are more likely than men to be affected; some estimates say that 75 percent of those affected–some 30 million people–are women." From the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association
Despite the fact that we've known for decades that wheat is intimately related to autoimmunity and the numerous autoimmune diseases associated with, the medical community largely continues to ignore their own research. This doesn't even begin to take into account NCGS, which studies show, is not even believed to be a real entity by over half of all treating physicians (HERE). For instance, the July issue of the medical journal Bundesgesundheitsblatt Gesundheitsforschung Gesundheitsschutz (Non-Allergic Gluten Sensitivity. A Controversial Disease or not yet Sufficiently Explored?) concluded that, "The avoidance of wheat, gluten and other cereal products is a growing phenomenon in industrialized countries. There exists a significant proportion of people reporting at least subjectively significant complaints and quality of life improvements after switching to a wheat- or gluten-free diet. The absence of clear diagnostic autoimmune or allergic criteria in these wheat sensitive patients has resulted in the description of non-celiac gluten sensitivity. It is clinically detectable in only very few individuals and may manifest with either intestinal, extra-intestinal or neurovegetative and psychosomatic symptoms." It is important to realize that despite our ability to test for it, NCGS is both real and potentially severe as described by the previous sentence.
The evidence linking autoimmunity to Celiac Disease is overwhelming. The question now becomes, how much autoimmunity can be intimately linked to NCGS? A study from the September issue of Gastroenterology (High Proportions of People With Nonceliac Wheat Sensitivity Have Autoimmune Disease or Antinuclear Antibodies) went a long way toward answering this question. "We evaluated the prevalence of autoimmune diseases among patients with nonceliac wheat sensitivity (NCWS), and investigated whether they carry antinuclear antibodies (ANA). In the retrospective analysis, similar portions of subjects with NCWS (29%) and CD (29%) developed autoimmune diseases (mainly Hashimoto's thyroiditis, 29 cases)..... In the prospective study, 24% of subjects with NCWS, 20% of subjects with CD developed autoimmune diseases. In the retrospective study, serum samples tested positive for ANA in 46% of subjects with NCWS, 24% of subjects with CD.... in the prospective study, serum samples were positive for ANA in 28% of subjects with NCWS, 7.5% of subjects with CD...."
The point here is that NCGS is at least as associated with autoimmunity as Celiac Disease is as measured by the ANA or antinuclear antibody test --- and in some cases more so. The ANA is an inexpensive blood test that can be added to the panel next time you have blood work done. Although vague as far as what it tells you (it gives you an idea of whether your body is making antibodies against self, although it does not tell you what specific tissue is being attacked), it at least provides a starting point. Now; allow me to show you some studies concerning GLUTEN and AUTOIMMUNITY.
Dr. Schierling completed four years of Kansas State University's five-year Nutrition / Exercise Physiology Program before deciding on a career in Chiropractic. He graduated from Logan Chiropractic College in 1991, and has run a busy clinic in Mountain View, Missouri ever since. He and his wife Amy have four children (three daughters and a son).