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We humans exist in sea of microorganisms. According to the American Society for Microbiology, there are 10 fold the number of bacteria living in and on our bodies as cells that make up our bodies. Wherever our bodies are exposed to the outside world, for example our digestive tracts, skin, mouth, vagina, etc. we find specific varieties of bacteria and other organisms.

The totality of all the bacteria and other microorganisms that populate our bodies is called the microbiome. The microbiome is highly individualized, with the spectrum of bacteria differing from one person to another; much like an individual’s fingerprints. All people display wide variations in the kinds of bacteria that inhabit them. The types and numbers of bacteria in and on our bodies differ depending on our genetic makeup, our diet, and environmental factors.

Immune cells are found throughout the body where they are always on alert defending the body against infection. Inflammation is the primary way that the immune system controls infections and healing, but overactive immune responses can lead to debilitating inflammatory diseases such as atherosclerosis, diabetes, and bowel disorders.

There is considerable “cross-talk” between the microbiome and the immune cells. Microorganisms influence the responses of the immune system, and the immune system in turn affects the populations of the organisms that inhabit us. For example, evidence suggests that certain bacteria in the gut can decrease inflammation in the gut and decrease chronic disease. [Whether the organisms themselves are producing these molecules, or whether they are triggering immune cells to release anti-inflammatory compounds is not clear.]

Celiac Disease and Diabetes:
Individuals with celiac disease are highly sensitive to foods containing gluten, a protein found in barley, rye, and wheat. People with celiac disease have significant quality of life issues such as bloating, diarrhea, and/or constipation.

When the immune cells of celiacs see gluten, they mount an inflammatory response to try to eliminate the gluten from the intestines. The immune cells produce antibodies that attach to the inner surface of the gut and through inflammatory responses cause direct damage of the gut lining. Inflammatory responses against the body’s own tissues lead to autoimmune (against oneself) disease.

Diabetes is also the result of an autoimmune condition. Inflammatory immune cells destroy specialized cells in the pancreas that produce insulin, a hormone needed to control blood sugar.

Individuals with celiac disease have more than digestive issues, since they have almost 2.5 times a greater chance of developing diabetes than those without intestinal problems. Such conditions are associated with antibodies directed against the insulin-producing cells. When Individuals with celiac disease go on a strict gluten-free diet, they produce fewer anti-insulin-antibodies, suggesting that they are producing less of an inflammatory response.

Gluten intake changes the kinds of bacteria found in the gut. Diabetic-prone mice that eat regular mouse chow containing gluten are more likely to get diabetes than diabetic-prone mice on gluten-free chow. In addition, when the gut bacteria are analyzed, the diabetic-prone mice on gluten have the type of bacteria more often associated with inflammation, than the mice not on gluten. Thus, diet affects the responses of the immune cells and the microbiome.

As followers of this blog are aware, in the face of constantly changing external and internal challenges, the immune system of a healthy person makes adjustments to maintain immune balance, immune homeostasis.

One would expect that if inflammatory and autoimmune responses were better controlled by the body, that individuals with celiac disease and diabetes would experience a far better quality of life.

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Gut-associated lymphoid tissues are found in the walls of the intestine and contain billions of immune cells.  The white blood cells control the levels and types of bacteria that naturally populate the intestines.  The bacteria help to digest food that provides energy to the body,  and are part of the immune/bacterial ecosystem of the intestine.

 Interestingly, both immune cells and bacteria, protect the intestines from attack by pathogenic microorganisms, and cancer cells, and help heal the intestines when they are damaged.  Cross talk between the bacteria, and immune cells help the intestines maintain homeostasis, balance.  Each keeps the other in check.

 CELIAC DISEASE
Celiac disease is an intestinal, inflammatory, autoimmune (against oneself) disorder.  Individuals with celiac disease suffer from a wide-range of symptoms including diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss, inability to focus, skin and neurological issues, constipation, a feeling of being “bloated”, gas, anemia, headaches, osteoporosis (loss of bone density), and depression. 

 Ingesting grains, such as wheat, rye, and barley, which contain a component of protein called gluten, reportedly stimulate celiac disease.

 The presence of gluten stimulates sensitive immune cells to produce proinflammatory cytokines.  These immune messages drive inflammation, resulting in the destruction of the intestinal wall and symptoms.   Genetic, environmental, dietary, neuroendocrine, and immunological factors all contribute to disease progression.

 Currently, the primary guidance that celiacs get, is to go on a “gluten-free” diet.  Although it may be effective for some people,  such diets are restrictive, expensive, and do not work well for everyone.  In one study, every patient, 100% of those surveyed, in a cohort of 300 individuals, hoped for another option.

 OTHER APPROACHES
I often hear from people with autoimmune challenges such as celiac disease, “it’s genetic”.  Fine, so your genes are partially to blame. Meanwhile, what will you do? Continue to be uncomfortable?  So I ask those with inflammatory issues, why not consider short-term approaches until researchers discover longer-term solutions?  In three words: limit excessive inflammation.

 I like to describe inflammation as a way that the body “burns” out pathogenic microorganisms and cancer cells. The body must produce enough inflammation to protect itself from disease, and help the healing process, but not so much that healthy tissue, for example the intestinal lining, is damaged.

 Nutritional Approaches
Vitamin C and omega-3 fatty acids, from fish oil, inhibit the production of proinflammatory cytokines. (There is however,  evidence that vitamin A increases inflammatory processes.).

 Medical Approaches
Antibodies against specific inflammatory cytokines reduce intestinal injury in celiac disease, and the administration of corticosteroids, along with a gluten-free diet, was reported, in a small clinical trial, to provide benefit to celiac patients.

 Immunological Homeostasis/Balance
Hyperimmune egg, an ingredient that helps the body return to immunological balance, helps to support gastrointestinal health.  Many individuals with digestive issues report daily consumption of hyperimmune egg leads to major differences in their quality of life.

 LIMIT INFLAMMATION FOR BETTER HEALTH
The key to a higher level of quality of life in celiac and other autoimmune and autoinflammatory conditions, is to help the body limit its excessive inflammatory responses.  Removing gluten from one’s diet, using vitamin C, omega-3, corticosteroids, and hyperimmune egg, may contribute to helping the body regulate run-away inflammation.

Feel free to contact Dr. Hellen at DrHellen@DrHellenGreenblatt.info with questions or to consult with her. A message may also be left at: 1.302-265.3870 or click on: http://drhellengreenblatt.info/contact-dr-hellen/.


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