Struggling to maintain control of your blood sugar? A gluten-free diet may be the answer! If you have one autoimmune disorder, you have a 30-50% greater risk of developing another, and both type 1 diabetes and celiac disease fall into that category.

As more and more research points to an enormous overlap between type 1 diabetes and celiac disease, it is in our best interests to mitigate additional risk by getting screened and/or adopting a gluten-free or Paleo diet to mitigate further risk. Today Nadine discusses the prevalence of diabetes, several research studies that explore the connection between type 1 diabetes and celiac disease, and the potential risks for type 1 diabetics who are undiagnosed celiac patients.

Listen and learn how your diet may be affecting your blood sugar and why going gluten-free could improve your health and quality of life!

What’s Discussed: 

The prevalence of diabetes

  • By 2050, half the population will have diabetes
  • According to CDC, 29.1 million have diabetes
  • One out of four don’t know they are diabetic
  • 18,000 young people diagnosed from 2008-2009

The difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes

  • Minimize risk for type 2 through diet and exercise
  • Type 1 is autoimmune disorder, don’t produce enough insulin to break down sugar

Symptoms of type 1 diabetes

  • Extreme thirst
  • Urgency to urinate frequently
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness

The enormous genetic overlap between type 1 diabetes and celiac disease

  • Scottish study found 94% of type 1 diabetics were HLA-DQ2 or HLA-DQ8 gene carriers
  • 100% overlap if include HLA-DQ2.2
  • Prevalence of celiac disease among type 1 diabetics is 20% higher than general population

The importance of testing all type 1 diabetics for celiac disease annually

  • Can develop celiac disease at any age

The consequences of undiagnosed celiac disease in children with type 1 diabetes

  • Short stature
  • Failure to thrive
  • Early onset osteopenia, osteoporosis
  • Easily broken or rubbery bones
  • Difficulty maintaining glycemic control (low blood sugar, spikes)
  • Anemia

The decreased quality of life for type 1 diabetics who are undiagnosed celiac

  • Development of infections
  • Difficulty with blood sugar maintenance

Research studies re: the percentages of type 1 diabetics who also have celiac disease

  • Iraq – 11.2%
  • Mexican participants – 5.9%
  • Denmark – 12.3%

Nadine’s anecdotal evidence of the overlap

  • Volunteers at community outreach clinic
  • Young man struggling to control blood sugar
  • Nadine recommended gluten-free diet
  • Improved health and quality of life

Health risks associated with an inability to control blood sugar

  • Blindness
  • Kidney failure
  • Amputation of extremities
  • Difficulty healing wounds
  • Heart attacks
  • Strokes

Why carb counting doesn’t control blood sugar

  • Carbs with little/no nutrient value cause spikes in blood sugar

The diet Nadine recommends for type 1 diabetics

  • Variation of Paleo diet
  • Nutrient dense foods
  • Meat and fish
  • Eggs
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Nuts and seeds

The benefits of a gluten-free diet for type 1 diabetics

  • Weight easier to control
  • Immune system works better
  • Tighter control on blood sugar

The lack of uniformity in screening guidelines

Additional autoimmune diseases that may be avoided with a gluten-free diet

  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Lupus
  • Sjögren’s
  • Scleroderma
  • Autoimmune thyroiditis
  • Graves’ disease
  • Hashimoto’s
  • Vitiligo
  • Raynaud’s

Potential triggers for autoimmune disorders

  • Gluten
  • Change in microbiome
  • Stress to body (i.e.: cold, food poisoning, travel)

 Treatments for small intestinal bacterial overgrowth

  • Low FODMAPs or specific carb diet
  • Rifaximin (antibiotic)

The dangers of maintaining high blood sugar

  • Damage to kidneys, eyes, capillaries, fingers and toes
  • Neuropathy
  • Gastroparesis

The long history of a connection between type 1 diabetes and celiac disease

The need for information re: the connection in diabetic education services

Resources:

“Type 1 Diabetes and Celiac Disease: The Effects of Gluten Free Diet on Metabolic Control” in the World Journal of Diabetes

“Co-occurrence of Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus and Celiac Disease” in the World Journal of Diabetes

“Screening for Coeliac Disease in Adult Patients with Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus: Myths, Facts and Controversy in Diabetology & Metabolic Syndrome

“The Prevalence of Coeliac Disease in Libyan Children with Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus” in Diabetes Metabolism Research and Reviews

“Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes in Celiac Disease: Prevalence and Effect on Clinical and Histological Presentation” in BMC Gastroenterology

“Coexistence of Coeliac Disease and Type 1 Diabetes” in Przeglad Gastroenterologiczny

“Screening for Celiac Disease in Type 1 Diabetes: A Systematic Review” in AAP News and Journals

Connect with Nadine: 

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Contact via Email

‘Your Skin on Gluten’ on YouTube

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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