People are suffering. From a feeling of hopelessness. From depression and anxiety. Add to that a despair that no one supports them, and you have a desperate individual at an increased risk of committing suicide.

This topic hits close to home for Nadine, as she lost a nephew to suicide in 2007. Ian struggled with addiction issues, and he took his life at the age of 19. Because her family is predisposed to celiac disease, Nadine wonders if undiagnosed celiac disease may have been partially to blame for her nephew’s issues. Today she explores the mental health disorders that are associated with gluten getting through the blood-brain barrier. She also explains how undiagnosed celiac disease puts patients at an increased risk for morbidity, and stresses the fact that celiac disease can—and will—kill you if it goes untreated.

Listen in as the Gluten Free RN tells her own story of improved mental health on a gluten-free diet. She also covers the types of cancers that might be prevented by going gluten-free, the connection between AFib and celiac disease, and how dermatitis herpetiformis affects patients. Listen and learn the best diet to help you get better, faster, and why medical professionals need to pay more attention to the intestines!

What’s Discussed: 

How to define morbidity and mortality

  • Morbidity = sickness
  • Mortality = death
  • People with undiagnosed celiac disease have increased risk for morbidity

How morbidity presents itself in undiagnosed celiac patients

  • Chronic anemia
  • Fatigue
  • Osteoporosis
  • Failure to thrive, grow
  • Infertility
  • Thyroid issues
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Lupus
  • MS
  • Sjögren’s

Information from the World Health Organization (WHO)

  • Diarrheal diseases are #1 killer of children
  • Only funded one celiac study
  • 1:19 rate in pediatric patients of Sahrawi descent

The prominent mental health issues associated with celiac disease

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Anti-social behavior
  • Suicide

How removing gluten from her diet improved Nadine’s mental health

  • Brain fog went away
  • ‘Got brain back’
  • Embrace all life has to offer
  • Freeing to know cause of symptoms

The grains that contain gluten

  • Wheat
  • Barley
  • Rye
  • Oats (cross-contamination)

The Paleo diet Nadine suggests for celiac and gluten-sensitive patients

  • Whole food
  • Focus on local, fresh
  • 100% grass-fed meat (no antibiotic, no hormone)
  • Fish and eggs
  • Nuts and seeds
  • 100% organic fruits and vegetables

Nadine’s experience with celiac disease

  • Multi-system organ failure, seven auto-immune disorders
  • Dermatitis herpetiformis
  • Diagnosed by dermatologist
  • Tests negative, but HLA-DQ2.5 gene carrier (both parents)

The connection between AFib and celiac disease

  • AFib puts patient at risk for stroke, sudden death
  • Check for magnesium RBC deficiency
  • Can be corrected with gluten-free diet
  • Resolve without pharmaceuticals

How dermatitis herpetiformis affects patients

  • Extremely painful, itchy skin
  • Manifestation of celiac disease
  • Suicide rate higher in patients with DH
  • Dapsone alone will not heal
  • Must also go gluten-free
  • Prolonged use of Dapsone is toxic to liver (bowel cancer, lymphoma)

The cancers that are potentially preventable on a gluten-free diet

  • Lymphoma
  • Small intestinal adenocarcinoma
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Oral pharyngeal

The genes that indicate a predisposition to celiac disease

  • HLA-DQ2
  • HLA-DQ8

Other disorders that could be mitigated by a gluten-free diet

  • Chronic anemia
  • Osteoporosis
  • Osteomalacia
  • Thyroid disorder
  • Dementia
  • Alzheimer’s
  • MS
  • Type 1 diabetes

How long it takes to receive celiac diagnosis in US

  • 9-15 years

The risks for patients diagnosed with celiac disease in childhood

  • Threefold increased risk of death (suicide, accidental death, violence)

Nadine’s research around celiac testing in autopsy

  • Couldn’t get straight answer from medical examiner (state of Oregon)
  • Study conducted in 1974 concluded that despite systematically positive response to gluten-free diet, some patients ended up with lymphoma

How Nadine periodically gives her system a detox

  • Limited fast (three to seven days)
  • Give organs, immune system a rest

Why medical professionals should give more attention to the intestines

  • Vast majority of signs, symptoms originate in intestines
  • 70-90% of immune system in intestines
  • Homocysteine levels higher in newly diagnosed celiac patients, related to other health issues

The issues that can result from undiagnosed celiac disease

  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Appendix removed
  • Gall bladder removed

The definition of refractory celiac disease

  • Intestines don’t heal even on gluten-free diet
  • Sometimes caused by continued exposure to trace amounts of gluten
  • Some patients past point of being able to heal

Why it’s crucial to remove all gluten from the environment

  • Celiac patients should feel safe where live, work and go to school
  • Even trace amounts cause continued symptoms, early death
  • Takes an emotional toll to be hypervigilant, mocked by loved ones

The connection between undiagnosed celiac disease the despair that leads to suicide

  • No hope of getting better
  • Don’t feel supported, believed (celiac is real disease)
  • Depression, anxiety and other mental health disorders
  • More vulnerable if undiagnosed and enduring abusive relationship

What happens when gluten gets through a leaky blood-brain barrier

  • Inflammation of the brain
  • Hypoxia (decreased oxygen flow)
  • Low end—brain fog, anxiety, depression, fatigue
  • High end—bipolar disease, antisocial behavior, learning disabilities, schizophrenia

The risks associated with eating traditionally grown fruits and vegetables

  • Glyphosate in Roundup causes leaky gut

The goals of the first six months on a gluten-free diet

  • Remove all gluten
  • Allow villi to grow back
  • Heal inflammation
  • Repair immune system

Resources:

Celiac Disease and Gluten Sensitivity in Down, Turner and Williams Syndrome

WHO Celiac Disease Study

“Necropsy Studies on Adult Coeliac Disease” in the Journal of Clinical Pathology

“Mortality in Celiac Disease” in Gastroenterology

“The Global Burden of Celiac Disease” in PLoSONE

“The Unknown Burden and Cost of Celiac Disease in the US”  in Expert Review of Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research

“Long-Term Mortality in People with Celiac Disease Diagnosed in Childhood Compared with Adulthood” in the American Journal of Gastroenterology

“Increased Risk of Atrial Fibrillation in Patients with Coeliac Disease: A Nationwide Cohort Study” in the European Heart Journal

“Increased Suicide Risk in Coeliac Disease—A Swedish Nationwide Cohort Study” in Digestive and Liver Disease

“The Burden of Celiac Disease and the Value of Having It Diagnosed” by Fredrik Norström of UMEA University

“Complications of Coeliac Disease: Are All Patients at Risk?”

“Evidence-Informed Expert Recommendations for the Management of Celiac Disease in Children” in Pediatrics

Connect with Nadine: 

Instagram

Facebook

Contact via Email

‘Your Skin on Gluten’ on YouTube

Melodies of the Danube Gluten-Free Cruise with Nadine

Books by Nadine:

Dough Nation: A Nurse’s Memoir of Celiac Disease from Missed Diagnosis to Food and Health Activism

Posted by Nadine Grzeskowiak, RN

Nadine is a 'food is medicine’ activist and is very proud of her work to educate all people about the power of food in health and wellness. Nadine is an expert consultant, professional speaker with over 1500 lectures to date, author of DOUGH NATION: A Nurse's Memoir of Celiac Disease From Missed Diagnosis to Food and Health Activism, podcaster, mom and former emergency/trauma/critical care nurse. Nadine is co-authoring her next book on the science of celiac disease.

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