Celiac Disease, Autoimmunity and more

The latest news on Celiac and autoimmunity

Celiac disease is a genetically linked autoimmune condition, and having it raises the risk of developing other autoimmune conditions. But unlike other autoimmune conditions, like Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) etc. we know that the key to turning off the disease process in Celiac disease is a gluten free diet. Researchers are examining what we know about the mechanism of Celiac disease to determine how we can take the knowledge and apply it to other autoimmune conditions, and find a way to disrupt the cycle of damage. Dr. Alessio Fasano, one of the leading experts on Celiac disease published an excellent article on this topic called “Celiac Disease Insights: Clues to Solving Autoimmunity” in the August 2009 issue of Scientific American. (http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=celiac-disease-insights)

IIt’s well established that in autoimmune conditions, a normally harmless trigger causes the immune system to overreact and leads to inflammation and a range of physical damage.  But Dr. Fasano and others have discovered that many people with autoimmune conditions, like RA, MS, Type 1 diabetes, and others experience increased intestinal permeability or a “leaky gut”, too.  In all these conditions, the leaky gut is usually due to high levels of a molecule called zonulin. In people with Celiac disease, gluten triggers the increased zonulin production, but there’s some research showing that that gluten may raise levels of inflammation in people without Celiac, too, but to a lesser extent . There is research underway to see if using a medication called Larazotide to block zonulin would be effective, and so far, studies have been promising.  Companies have begun to examine if the same benefits may be seen in other conditions, like Type 1 Diabetes or Crohn’s disease.

So bring on the lasagna, right?  Actually, no.  The drug is still in research phases, and any medication is years away.  It’s only intended to protect against small amounts of gluten, or accidental cross contamination, so a gluten free diet is still necessary.    It’s also worth noting that Dr. Fasano has been involved in the development of this drug.  However, this could potentially represent a huge safety net for people with Celiac disease, and a potential for great benefits for people with other autoimmune conditions.  It is unclear how this medication or research could potentially impact people with non autoimmune gluten sensitivity, since such a wide range of conditions fall under this umbrella.

Got baby?
University of Maryland Center for Celiac Research has been conducting a study on infant feeding for the last few years, and the article gives us some preliminary thoughts from the research. This new study seems to indicate that delaying gluten the introduction of gluten for the first year of life in “high risk” infants may lead to a four-fold reduction in the risk of developing Celiac disease. However, it’ll be many years before we know if this protection is temporary or lifelong.  This is news, because previous research indicated that between 4 and 7 months was protective. Also, since August is World Breastfeeding Month, it’s worth mentioning that studies have also shown that breastfeeding offers some protection against CD, especially if mom is still breastfeeding when gluten in introduced.

Although it’s a lengthy article, it’s a must read for anyone with Celiac or any other autoimmune condition, and it’s very exciting new information.

Classes and events:

Living and Loving a GF Diet

Saturday, Sept 26th 11:00-12:30

  • Celiac disease, gluten sensitivity and the importance of testing
  • All you ever wanted to know about label reading
  • Foods to avoid, cross contamination and hidden gluten
  • Sorting out the facts from common myths
  • Where to get support-local and online groups, websites, books

This is great for people still learning a GF diet, needing a refresher, or wanting to educate friends and family members.  To register, see http://www.harriswholehealth.com/services The class cost is $20 per person, or bring a friend for 2 people for $35.

WACSSGs is having their next meeting on September 12, 2009

Speaker: Dr. John Snyder, Children’s National Medical Center
Topic: A New Celiac Center Comes to DC!
Location: Chevy Chase Neighborhood Library (5625 Connecticut Ave, NW, Washington, DC) www.DCLibrary.org

You win some, you lose some…

😎 Betty Crocker has introduced a new line of brownie and cake mixes which have gotten great reviews! I’ve seen them at local stores, and here’s link to a free coupon:

  • General Mills is offering a FREE coupon for any one of their new Betty Crocker gluten-free baking mixes! To redeem your free box, call General Mill’s customer service number at: 1-800-446-1898, which is the same number listed on the Betty Crocker boxes. Then, at the main menu press “4”. UPDATED NOTE: this no longer works, but if you call, they’ll give you coupons.

😥 Starbucks has opted to discontinue its GF orange muffin. While some people did complain it was too rich, having options means a lot to the GF community!

Harris Whole Health offers individual sessions, family sessions and group classes to help people eat healthier and feel better! Whether you are dealing with Celiac Disease, food allergies, picky eaters, children on the Autistic spectrum, chronic illness, or if you just want to feel and look better, Cheryl can help you achieve your goals. For an appointment with Cheryl Harris, Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist, please click here or call 571-271-8742.