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What are autoimmune diseases? Do you wonder if you or a loved one may have an autoimmune disease? It is a possibility. 1 in 12 women and 1 in 20 men will develop an autoimmune disease within their lifetime (according to WebMD). The National Institutes of Health estimates that five to eight percent of Americans have an autoimmune disorder. An autoimmune disease is caused by an autoimmune response that negatively affects the body, with virtually any organ of the body potentially afflicted. There are at least 80 diseases that arise due to an autoimmune response, with new diseases being discovered frequently. Diagnosis is difficult because many symptoms overlap, or the disease may be asymptomatic. Further problematic is that often the diseases are uncommon and mysterious. Autoimmune disorders are expensive to treat because they generally last a lifetime as there are no definitive cures to date (John Hopkins Medical Institutions). It is for these reasons and more that Kay’s Naturals is dedicating a number of our bi-monthly articles to explore autoimmunities. It is our hope that in doing so, we can help open up a dialogue about autoimmune diseases and increase public awareness. It is through understanding that we can overcome these increasingly prevalent disorders. This article will discuss celiac disease and its connection to other autoimmune diseases.
Celiac disease (CD) is an autoimmune disorder that is caused by gluten, a wheat and grain protein that makes food’s like bread doughy. CD develops most frequently in individuals who are genetically susceptible and have an environmentally triggering experience. CD creates an autoimmune response that destroys the villi of the small intestine when gluten is ingested. According to the article ‘Celiac Disease-Associated Autoimmune Endocrinopathies,’ published in American Society for Microbiology, “the incidence of CD in various autoimmune disorders is increased 10- to 30-fold in comparison to the general population, although in many cases CD is clinically asymptomatic or silent.” CD is a potentially life threatening disease and its diagnosis and connection to autoimmune disorders is important for a variety of reasons. The authors of the article believe that, “CD may predispose an individual to other autoimmune disorders such as type I diabetes, autoimmune thyroid, and other endocrine diseases and that gluten may be a possible trigger.” There are a number of autoimmune diseases linked to CD, and the connection between them may be genetic. The National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse lists them as:
● Type I diabetes
● Autoimmune thyroid disease
● Autoimmune liver disease
● Rheumatoid arthritis
● Addison's disease, a condition in which the glands that produce critical hormones are damaged
● Sjögren's syndrome, a condition in which the glands that produce tears and saliva are destroyed
A greater understanding on behalf of the public and experts is needed to prevent unnecessary bodily harm and pain for individuals with CD. If you have CD, it may be wise to be tested for these autoimmune diseases as well. Be proactive about your health! Spread awareness by educating yourself, your family and friends, and even your doctor. Eating well is also a natural first step to healthy living. Kay’s Naturals is gluten-free and very low in sugar; making it a tasty, convenient and affordable food option for individuals with diabetes and CD! Take a look at Kay’s protein-rich products by following this link.