Celiac disease, an oft unheard of and poorly understood disease has rocketed into the limelight over the past few years. People are gobbling up gluten-free products even with a lack of the disease.

There's no cure for Celiac disease, but it's unique in the respect that it's managed by diet (not drugs) — a lifelong prescription for a gluten, wheat, barley and rye-free diet. Symptoms such as heartburn and arthritis may be managed by medications but celiac disease itself is treated by eliminating the aforementioned items.

What Are The Chances Of A Dual-Diagnosis?

Type 1 diabetes (T1D) and Celiac disease are autoimmune diseases in which the immune system essentially attacks its healthy cells that it should be protecting.

Statistically speaking, Celiac disease is estimated to strike 1 in 100 Americans; if you have type 1 diabetes, you have approximately a 1 in 10 chance of developing Celiac disease in your lifetime as well — according to PR Newswire.

In other words, 10 percent of people living with T1D also have Celiac disease.

A study conducted at the Barbara Davis Center, found that 33 percent of kids had "signs of celiac disease or other autoimmune disorders at the time of diagnosis".

Genetics

In a JDRF-funded research study, a scientific team identified seven chromosome regions shared between the T1D and Celiac disease. "The results were surprising, because we did not expect to see this very high degree of shared genetic risk factors. These findings suggest common mechanisms causing both celiac and type 1 diabetes,” stated Professor van Heel in Countdown Magazine.

Symptoms Of Celiac Disease

Celiac disease isn't a 'gut-only' disease, in fact its not very discriminatory at all. Celiac disease can range from a symptomless (you don't know you have it) disease to arthritis, hair loss, thyroid issues, T1D, constipation, heartburn, skin rash, weight loss, fatigue, chronic stomach pain, cancers and the list goes on and on.

How Do I get Screened?

Be sure you have gluten in your diet (or the tests will be negative), see you doctor and request that they order Celiac blood work. If these are positive, a gastroenterologist will perform an endoscopy to obtain samples to confirm the diagnosis.

Research

Joslin Diabetes Center, the world's largest diabetes research center, has a study underway exploring the immune response in patients living with both T1D and Celiac disease. Their lofty goals aim to discover and halt the immune response responsible for T1D.

What came first — Celiac disease or T1D? An Italian study shows the longer one goes without being diagnosed with Celiac disease the higher their chance of developing other autoimmune diseases is, according to Living Without.

Celiac Disease And Blood Sugar Control

Celiac disease can be a very destructive process capable of ravaging the small intestine when gluten is consumed. Nutritional deficiencies are quite common upon diagnosis as many nutrients are absorbed through the small intestine.

Removing gluten from the diet promotes gut healing. People living with T1D may see a shift in blood sugars as the inflammation begins to heal. If someone is malabsorbing food (aka have diarrhea), they may see less hypoglycemia as the gut heals and may need more insulin. If someone has had a rash of high blood sugars possibly from the inflammatory process, they may experience more lows requiring less insulin.

Necessary diet changes have led to a caveman style of eating. The Paleo diet is grain-free, leading to an uncomplicated regime of whole foods rather than gluten-free substitutes that are typically high in carbs and refined/ processed ingredients that are quick to raise blood sugars. This diet is popular amongst the diabetes community, not just for those living with Celiac disease.

Specialty Centers:

Celiac disease isn't a black and white diagnostic process for many people — it's can be sort of in a 'gray zone'. If you are having difficulty getting to the bottom of your symptoms there are specialty centers in the midwest, and the east/ west coast to tap into.

University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center in Chicago

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston

Wm. K. Warren Medical Research Center For Celiac Disease at UC SanDiego

To learn more on this topic:
Should Diabetics Be Gluten-Free?
Learning to Deal with a "Restrictive" Diet
Should Diabetics Go Paleo?