Diabetes and Celiac Disease
Published July, 2020
What is celiac disease?
An autoimmune disease which is the result of an immune system response to the ingestion of gluten (a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley) in susceptible individuals. This response to gluten damages the small intestine, leading to malabsorption of nutrients and related problems. Untreated celiac disease can also lead to health issues in virtually any body system.
- Can cause food and medications to be absorbed poorly. This can lead to symptoms of starvation, and nutrient and medication malabsorption.
- The only treatment is a strict gluten-free diet.
- If the diet is followed, the intestinal damage will slowly heal. This can take several months or longer.
- The disease is lifelong. Intestinal damage occurs each time gluten is consumed.
- Celiac disease affects about one in every 100 people.
Type 1 diabetes and celiac disease: The link
- There is a genetic link between Type 1 diabetes and celiac disease. (There is no connection between Type 2 diabetes and celiac disease.)
- Developing one of the diseases increases the risk of developing the other.
- The prevalence of celiac disease in people with Type 1 diabetes is about 6% worldwide.
- When a family has two children who have Type 1 diabetes, there is a higher chance that someone in the family will have celiac disease.
- Symptoms of celiac disease vary widely, but are often absent in individuals with Type 1 diabetes.
- Celiac disease can cause unstable blood sugar control.
Classic symptoms: Gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, vomiting, weight loss, anemia.
Other symptoms: Chronic fatigue, bone pain, muscle cramps, balance problems, migraine headaches, seizures, behavior and memory problems, neuropathies, growth and maturation delays, infertility, bone disease, dental enamel defects, and more.
The gluten-free diet
Gluten-free grains and starches
The following grains and starches are allowed on a gluten-free diet:
- Nut Flours
- Oats that are certified gluten-free*
*The safest oat products are those that have been certified gluten-free. While products labeled gluten-free should comply with the FDA definition of containing less than 20 ppm of gluten, this is not third-party verified. GFCO’s standard for gluten-free is 10 ppm of gluten or less.
Foods Containing Gluten
The following foods are not allowed on a gluten-free diet. This is not a complete listing.
- Malt and Malt Extract
- Wheat Germ
This article has been assessed and approved by a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist.