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Coeliac Disease – stopping Gluten

One of our members (Pauline) posted the following message on the main thyroid forum, and it is considered worthy enough to be placed in our ‘Treasure Chest’. Here is her message:

As someone already pointed out, coeliac disease is for life – although the gut damage can heal by avoiding gluten, it will likely come back if gluten is consumed again. (The consultant is an idiot for suggesting otherwise). You have a family history of coeliac disease, so unfortunately that increases the chance that you have a problem with gluten yourself. Since your daughter was antibody negative and still had coeliac disease, I would guess that it also increases the likelihood that you would be the same. Unless you’ve already had a biopsy, then coeliac disease can’t be ruled out. There’s also the rash, which could be DH, and people with DH usually have coeliac disease too. It would be worth getting the rash checked out for DH.

You have to do this while still eating gluten, or the tests are invalid. The period of time over which you need to eat gluten to cause enough gut damage is probably long, months not weeks, while the gut is one of the fastest healing parts of the body. Also, when people do have an immune reaction to gluten, that reaction tends to get stronger when you quit and then eat it again, so I really wouldn’t try giving up gluten at all before you’ve been thoroughly tested. I made that mistake and now will never get a diagnosis.

But once properly tested, you may want to give up gluten regardless of the results. Gluten is tough on the gut. We cannot digest it properly, and the fragments of gluten can cause gut inflammation even when there’s no autoimmune response. In some people the immune system can make antibodies to gluten directly, or the innate immune system can turn up and try to fight it – an immune response that doesn’t require antibodies at all. If the immune system is involved then that means inflammation, which is nearly always bad. Then there’s wheat germ agglutinin, which is a lectin and can damage cells and is linked to arthritis. A healthy gut can handle these things perfectly fine, but not everybody has a healthy gut…

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