Gluten Damages More Than Just the Gut

If you eat fast-food all the time or drink six colas a day, you probably know that you’re body isn’t in the best of health. But bread–how could that be bad for you? Bread contains gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. It’s also found in some other grains, but these are the ones with ‘toxic gluten’.

It is hidden in pizza, pasta, bread, wraps, rolls, and most processed foods. Gluten can cause serious health complications for many. You may be at risk even if you don’t have coeliac disease (gluten allergy).

Toxic Gluten

The Journal of the American Medical Association completed a large study that found that heart disease and cancer, were just two of the major risk factors for people with diagnosed, undiagnosed, and gluten sensitivity (1). 30,000 patients from 1969 to 2008 were included. The findings were concerning. There was a 39% increased risk of death in those with coeliac disease, 72% increased risk in those with gluten-related gut inflammation, and 35% increased risk in those with gluten sensitivity but no coeliac disease.

This study proves you don’t have to have diagnosed coeliac disease with a positive intestinal biopsy to have serious health problems and complications due to gluten.

Gluten-related conditions

A New England Journal of Medicine review showed that gluten has been linked to 55 “diseases” (2). These include irritable bowel disease, inflammatory bowel disease, osteoporosis, heart disease, anemia, fatigue, cancer, canker sores, (3) and lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and almost all other autoimmune diseases. Gluten is also linked to many psychiatric (4) and neurological diseases, including anxiety, depression, (5) schizophrenia, (6) dementia, (7) migraines, epilepsy, and neuropathy (nerve damage). (8) It has also been linked to autism.(9)

Diarrhoea, weight loss, and failure to thrive used to be associated with coeliac disease. It’s now become clear that inability to lose weight, constipation and general digestive complaints are also commonly experienced symptoms, as well as many others.

Gluten sensitivity is actually an autoimmune disease with wide-ranging effects across the body including your brain, heart, joints, digestive tract, and more. It can be the single cause behind many different “diseases.” Of course, that doesn’t mean that all cases of autoimmune disease or any of these other problems are caused by gluten in everyone–but it is important to look for it if you have any chronic illness.

Click here to read the next blog about Testing for Gluten Sensitivity or Coeliac Disease.

Understanding whether gluten sensitivity or coeliacs disease is a problem for you can be really difficult and confusing. That why my clients let me do all the hard work for them.

Click here to find out more about the services that I offer.


  1. Ludvigsson JF, Montgomery SM, Ekbom A, Brandt L, Granath F. Small-intestinal histopathology and mortality risk in celiac disease. JAMA. 2009 Sep 16;302(11):1171-8.
  2. Farrell RJ, Kelly CP. Celiac sprue. N Engl J Med. 2002 Jan 17;346(3):180-8. Review.
  3. Sedghizadeh PP, Shuler CF, Allen CM, Beck FM, Kalmar JR. Celiac disease and recurrent aphthous stomatitis: a report and review of the literature. Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol Oral Radiol Endod. 2002;94(4):474-478.
  4. Margutti P, Delunardo F, Ortona E. Autoantibodies associated with psychiatric disorders. Curr Neurovasc Res. 2006 May;3(2):149-57. Review.
  5. Ludvigsson JF, Reutfors J, Osby U, Ekbom A, Montgomery SM. Coeliac disease and risk of mood disorders–a general population-based cohort study. J Affect Disord. 2007 Apr;99(1-3):117-26. Epub 2006 Oct 6.
  6. Ludvigsson JF, Osby U, Ekbom A, Montgomery SM. Coeliac disease and risk of schizophrenia and other psychosis: a general population cohort study. Scand J Gastroenterol. 2007 Feb;42(2):179-85.
  7. Hu WT, Murray JA, Greenaway MC, Parisi JE, Josephs KA. Cognitive impairment and celiac disease. Arch Neurol. 2006 Oct;63(10):1440-6.
  8. Bushara KO. Neurologic presentation of celiac disease. Gastroenterology. 2005 Apr;128(4 Suppl 1):S92-7. Review.
  9. Millward C, Ferriter M, Calver S, Connell-Jones G. Gluten- and casein-free diets for autistic spectrum disorder. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2004;(2):CD003498. Review.