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We are told that all forms of diabetes are chronic, long-term disorders that have no hope of ever being cured.
According to physicians, the best diet for diabetics is high in fiber and low in saturated fat.
Could a gluten-free diet eliminate signs and symptoms of type I diabetes?
All Forms of Diabetes May Be an Autoimmune Disorder
Type II diabetes, characterized by insulin resistance, is understood to be the product of lifestyle. This means that our risk for developing type II diabetes is influenced by factors like:
Groundbreaking research confirms that a gluten-free diet can be used to eliminate signs of type I diabetes. Wheat gluten is a common gut irritant and protein that can cause an inflammatory immune response.
- A sugary diet
- Lack of exercise
- Poor quality of sleep
- High levels of stress
Type I diabetes, also called juvenile onset diabetes, is slightly different. Type I diabetes is a well-known autoimmune disease.
As an autoimmune disease, this means that specific signals in the blood initiate an attack on the body’s own cells. When it comes to type I diabetes, the immune system attacks the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin.
Insulin is a key hormone in all forms of diabetes, whether dominated by lifestyle or an autoimmune response. This is because insulin:
- Helps the body regulate levels of blood sugar.
- Removes large amounts of sugar from the blood, where it is toxic.
- Prompts the body’s cells to pick up and use sugar for energy production.
- Prevents cells from starving and dying.
When the body begins to attack cells that produce insulin, the amount of available insulin drops. And blood sugar levels naturally rise.
Over the last several years, researchers are investigating how type II diabetes may also be rooted in an autoimmune response. (1)(2)
What Does Gluten Have To Do with Diabetes?
According to a recent study from Denmark, a gluten-free diet may be all that’s necessary to eliminate the signs and symptoms associated with autoimmune type I diabetes. (3)
The study, led by Dr. Sildorf at Copenhagen University Hospital, followed a five-year-old boy who was diagnosed with type I diabetes. When the boy was diagnosed with type I diabetes, he began a gluten-free and low-sugar diet.
The kicker: After five weeks of insulin treatment and a new diet, the boy’s physicians determined that he no longer needed insulin therapy.
Still on his gluten-free diet two years later, the boy has no need for insulin medication. This means that his body is making enough insulin to support the movement of sugar out of the bloodstream and into his cells, where it belongs.
Any autoimmune disease can benefit from dietary adjustments, like the removal of gluten from the diet.
This is because wheat gluten is now widely recognized as a gut irritant and as a protein that can ignite an inflammatory immune response.
However, gluten is not the only offender.
An autoimmune reaction can occur in the presence of gluten, as well as other proteins that the immune system reads as gluten. Each person with an autoimmune disorder will react uniquely to different foods.
Wheat gluten and milk casein are the most common culprits. But other inflammatory proteins that mimic the effect of gluten include those found in:
- Gluten-free substitutes, like corn and rice
In addition to controlling an autoimmune disorder like type I and type II diabetes, a gluten-free diet can minimize signs of systemic inflammation, such as skin disorders, joint pain, headaches, and brain fog.
Managing Diabetes in Light of Current Research
There is more to diabetes than a high-fiber, low-fat diet.
In fact, avoiding healthy saturated fats and eating whole wheat bread may do more to promote the development of type II diabetes. (4)
When it comes to diabetes, it makes sense to use dietary tools that can protect the body from the development of an inflammatory response or an autoimmune flare-up.
In addition to removing gluten from the diet…
1. Supplement with enzymes. Enzyme supplements that help to break apart dairy, animal, and grain proteins can prevent an otherwise explosive autoimmune flare-up.
Body Ecology’s Assist Dairy & Protein contains DPP IV, which helps to deconstruct gliadin (a protein found in wheat gluten) and casein. Because these proteins are often the source of an intense inflammatory response, DPP IV supplementation can provide a great deal of relief for those with gluten-sensitivity. (5)(6)
2. Enjoy fermented foods and beverages. Wheat gluten promotes the growth of pro-inflammatory bacteria that can make autoimmunity worse over time. (7)
When we choose to eat a side of cultured vegetables or drink a few ounces of a probiotic beverage with every meal, we willingly equip the body with beneficial bacteria that fight the inflammatory cascade.
What To Remember Most About This Article:
We have been led to believe that all types of diabetes are chronic conditions without hope of a cure. Many doctors recommend a high-fiber diet that is low in saturated fat to manage diabetes.
Yet research points to the fact that a gluten-free diet could be used to eliminate signs of type I diabetes, also known as an autoimmune disease. Researchers are now analyzing how type II diabetes could be rooted in an autoimmune response.
Any type of autoimmune disease can benefit from dietary adjustments, including removing gluten from the diet. The reason being is because gluten is known to irritate the gut and can cause an inflammatory immune response. A person with an autoimmune disorder may also react to other gut irritants that include coffee, chocolate, and eggs.
On top of eliminating gluten in the diet, diabetics can manage their condition by:
- Supplementing with enzymes like Assist Dairy & Protein to break apart dairy, animal, and grain proteins to prevent autoimmune flare-ups.
- Eating cultured vegetables and drinking probiotic beverages with each meal to support the gut with friendly bacteria to fight off inflammation.
- LD Kohn, et al. Is type II diabetes an autoimmune-inflammatory disorder of the innate immune system? Endocrinology. 2005 Oct;146(10):4189-91.
- S Winer, et al. The adaptive immune system as a fundamental regulator of adipose tissue inflammation and insulin resistance. Immunol Cell Biol. 2012 Sep;90(8):755-62. doi: 10.1038/icb.2011.110. Epub 2012 Jan 10.
- Sildorf, et al. Remission without insulin therapy on a gluten-free diet in a 6-year-old by with type I diabetes mellitus. BMJ Case Reports. 2012.
- Annie L Culver, et al. Statin Use and Risk of Diabetes Mellitus in Postmenopausal Women in the Women's Health Initiative. Arch Intern Med. 2012;172(2):144-152.
- Detel, Dijana et al. Serum and Intestinal Dipeptidyl Peptidase IV (DPP IV/CD26) Activity in Children With Celiac Disease. Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology & Nutrition: July 2007. Vol 45: 1. 65-70 DOI: 10.1097/MPG.0b013e318054b085
- Smith, MW et al. Abnormal expression of dipeptidylpeptidase IV activity in enterocyte brush-border membranes of children suffering from coeliac disease. July 1, 1990 Experimental Physiology, 75, 613-616.
- DL Mackenzie. Variation in populations of enteral microflora in people with coeliac disease following the implementation of a gluten free diet : a thesis in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Human Nutrition through the Institute of Food, Nutrition and Human Health at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand. 2008. URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10179/1703