This video features Dr. Stefano Guadalini, the medical director of the Celiac Disease Center at the University of Chicago, and Lara Field, dietitian at Comer Children’s Hospital.
This video starts with Dr. Guadalini talking about autoimmune conditions and the connection specifically between celiac disease and type 1 diabetes. He explains how celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder, where the body produces antibodies and cells that attack organs in the body. He also talks about one of the most common autoimmune disorders being type 1 diabetes, where the antibodies and cells attack cells in the pancreas causing the diabetes.
He mentions studies that have shown a strong association between celiac disease and type 1 diabetes, more specifically 10% of people who have type 1 diabetes already have or will develop celiac disease at some point. On the other hand out of 100 people with celiac disease about 5 of them have type 1 diabetes.
He discusses how there appears to be an association, but they don’t yet know if this is because these conditions both share some similar genetic components or if one condition may lead to another. Some models suggest one may lead to another, meaning if you have an undiagnosed celiac disease you have an autoimmune condition and the predisposition to develop autoimmune antibodies. The presence of gluten on a regular basis can fuel the immune reactivity, which may lead to type 1 diabetes.
The video then moves to Lara Field to discuss the dietary implications of celiac disease and diabetes. She mentions that many gluten-free foods are made with refined flours, meaning they are broken down into simple sugars or simple units of glucose. This will impact the control of diabetes if you are going on a gluten-free diet. Meeting with a dietician is important to learn about incorporating gluten-free whole grains into a gluten-free diet, instead of simply refined GF grains.
The more a food is processed the more refined the carbohydrates it contains. Everyone should limit these refined carbs, as they can cause us to overeat and take in too many calories, which leads to weight gain. These processed foods often lack the fiber and nutrients that satisfy and provide the sensation of being full.
She touches on how the most popular gluten-free foods often contain white rice flour, tapioca, corn or potato starch. These should be limited, especially if you have both celiac disease and diabetes, as they can make the diabetes more difficult to control. Instead she promotes foods made with healthier, whole grain gluten-free flours like buckwheat (unrelated to wheat) or quinoa flour, bean flours and nut flours, which provide more fiber and protein.
Eating healthy is always important, but it can be especially important if you are trying to recover from the damage done by gluten if you have been living with an undiagnosed gluten intolerance and if you are trying to control diabetes at the same time.