Top 4 Most Common Secondary Autoimmune Disorders In Coeliacs

We all know that autoimmune disorders tend to come in multiples, sadly: got one, probably develop another.

This is why I am constantly advising people with diagnosed coeliac disease – and non-coeliac gluten sensitivity, which I am convinced for some involves an autoimmune element – to test for the presence of others. Of course, it goes the other way around too – if you have an autoimmune disease such as the ones mentioned below, could you also have a gluten related disorder?

Ask your consultant to test, or general – and usually much more comprehensive – testing can be done using the Cyrex tests – 5 is the most general or my own invented one, MR1, but you can also test specific joint, diabetes and neurological autoimmune disease antibodies now with Arrays 6, 7 and 8. You can see all of these here and follow the links for more info. There is also a useful rundown of the Cyrex 5 autoimmune antibodies and what they each mean here.

Anyway, back to the top four other most common autoimmune disorders found in coeliacs. This came from a study here, which Foodsmatter alerted me to.

Chronic autoimmune disorders are increased in coeliac disease

We won’t be surprised to learn that the thyroid is top. I see this a lot. Next comes psoriasis, which again I see a lot. Third is Type 1 Diabetes – not surprising as they are both on the DQ gene location. Fourth is Sjogren’s Syndrome, for which the most common first symptoms are dryness – of eyes, mouth; lack of secretions generally.

Why do we develop more than one autoimmune disease anyway?

Here’s a bit taken from my Gluten Plan. This is about how gluten triggers autoimmunity since we know that gluten seems to be a top common denominator across autoimmune disease.

What Happens In the Body?

This is an emerging scientific field with a truly fantastic amount of research coming out almost daily. But, this is what we think so far (see following diagram).

To trigger the GRD process, we need:

1. An environmental trigger of some kind (in this case gluten is the main one, but dairy, a fungus, bacteria, stress, trauma, chemical toxin, medicine, drug or virus could be a secondary trigger) plus

2. A genetic susceptibility (the gluten DQ genes, – all of them, not just coeliac DQ2 and DQ8) which leads to

3. An unusually permeable barrier problem. No-one is sure currently whether this always starts with the gut and spreads from there, or can start in the brain and then move onward. Barriers include skin (eg. eczema/dermatitis/psoriasis), lungs (eg. asthma), bladder (eg. interstitial cystitis), blood-brain (eg. migraine, Alzheimer’s, ataxia) and gut. This then leads to

4. Immune dysregulation which causes:

  • food and/or environmental sensitivity because of the breached barriers allowing antigens through
  • inflammation, either systemic (body-wide) or localised (as in the gut, joints, muscles, nerve fibres, fibromyalgia etc) and/or to
  • autoimmunity and molecular mimicry – where the body starts confusing similar-looking food structures for self-antigens of body tissues, glands and cells, as in Hashimoto’s, type 1 diabetes, psoriasis, MS, coeliac disease, parietal cells causing lack of acid and enzymes, adrenal dysfunction, neurological illness etc – could literally be anywhere.

No coincidence then that most gluten sensitives have a problem with poor cognition and memory, neurological issues like anxiety and migraine, muscle and nerve issues, skin diseases like eczema and posriasis, gut symptoms and adrenal/thyroid fatigue. Hence it is termed:

A Multi-Organ, Multi-System problem

By Dr Vojdani, Immunologist

Fascinating, isn’t it? Anyway, my message is: please do check for the presence of other autoimmune diseases if you have or suspect one. They take a looong time to show symptoms – decades sometimes – and the earlier we know about them, the easier they are to prevent or reverse. Forewarned is forearmed and all that.

4 Replies to “Top 4 Most Common Secondary Autoimmune Disorders In Coeliacs”

  1. Gosh this is depressing and frightening Micki. Why would we want to know, because how can we reverse or prevent?

    1. Oh it’s not meant to be scary, sorry Lynne. The whole point as per my last sentence is that they are preventable and you can take both autoimmune protocol and specific steps to address them before they develop – there is a huge amount of research on AI diseases at the moment in functional medicine which is very practical and do-able. Most AI diseases, as I said, seem to have gluten as a trigger for the process so just by getting that out of your diet, if susceptible, is a key prevention strategy. Start by reading the Autoimmune section in the Gluten Plan if you have that – I give my protocol there.

  2. My husband went to a course on making kimchi, a probiotic, which is very good for the digestive tract and gut biota. We now have it 2 or 3 times a week, and it has definitely made a difference to me, energy, brain fog, etc. Plus it’s delicious. You need live kimchi, not pasteurised. We make ours from cabbage, daikon (gigantic Asian raddish like veg), carrots and a couple of spring onions in the batch. But sauerkraut is another version, just made from cabbage. I like the carrots and daikon best.

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