The Gluten Connection to Osteoporosis and Autoimmune Diseases

October 24, 2020

Many people don’t understand that gluten grains are related to many health problems such as Acid Reflux, Osteoporosis, Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis or thyroid conditions, such as Graves Disease or Hashimoto’s Thyroid Disease to name just a few. While some think that gluten sensitivities are a passing fad, the two nutritionists hosting this episode share personal and client stories suggesting otherwise with success stories about adverse health effects disappearing after cutting out gluten grains. Listen in to learn if that could be the case for you, and how to safely get started today.

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CASSIE: Welcome to Dishing Up Nutrition. This show is brought to you by Nutritional Weight & Wellness. I'm Cassie Weness. I've been a Registered and Licensed Dietitian for 22 years. And of those 22 years, I've been teaching nutrition classes and co-hosting this Dishing Up Nutrition program for about the past 14 to 15 years. I'm telling you this, certainly not to make myself feel old, but to let you know that I have quite a bit of experience to share. And I feel really fortunate to be able to be here this morning to help all of you listening better understand the connection between what you eat and how you feel. And today my co-host, Teresa, and I will be discussing a subject that I know a lot about. And if we're being honest, I know a lot about this topic more by destiny, certainly not by choice.

We're going to be talking about the myriad of health problems that gluten grains cause for a lot of people. As many of our listeners know, I know a lot about this topic, not only because of how gluten has negatively affected my health, but what really drives my passion on this topic stems from the fact that both of my kids have a condition called celiac. And if you're not familiar with this autoimmune condition, in a nutshell, it's when your body has a severe reaction to gluten, and actually causes your body to begin attacking itself. It's kind of like the immune system goes haywire. And if you swallow even just a tiny speck of gluten, your immune system first begins attacking your own small intestine. So now you know a little bit about our topic for the day.

Next, I'd like to ask a few questions just to get everybody connecting the dots as we delve further into what we really could call “the dark side of gluten”. So question number one: Do you or a close family member have lupus? Do you or a close family member have rheumatoid arthritis? Or do you have a thyroid condition like Graves' disease or Hashimoto's thyroiditis? Do you have Raynaud’s? If you're not familiar with Raynaud's, I can explain from personal experience. Raynaud's is when the blood vessels in your hands and your feet constrict when you get cold and they constrict beyond what's normal; when the weather or the air is cold; or it can happen because of stress as well. And then your fingers or your toes might turn white and you get sort of a burning pain; not fun. Or is your autoimmune disease scleroderma or type-one diabetes? Do you or a loved one have chronic acid reflux? Or do you have osteoporosis? If you can say yes to any of these questions, you're in for a super informative show. Today, Teresa and I want to help you make the connection between eating gluten grains, namely the wheat, the rye, the barley, and most oats, and your health problems. And as I just mentioned, my co-host today is Teresa. I want to tell you a little bit more about her. Teresa Wagner, like me, is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian. She too teaches many of our nutrition classes. She of course, co-hosts this radio program. She's a mom of young kids and she counsels clients several days a week, either by Zoom or phone appointments. Because of COVID-19 we're offering all of our nutritional counseling either by video or phone appointments.

TERESA: Yes, that's right. And we are staying busy with those phone appointments and Zoom appointments. But as it relates to our topic today, Cassie, when you mentioned earlier that your kids have celiac disease, it made me think, “Were you shocked at the many hidden sources of gluten when you started living a gluten-free life all those years ago?”

Hidden Gluten in Foods and Cosmetic Products

CASSIE: I really was shocked. You know, I had been a dietitian for many years at that point, by the time our family got diagnosed. So I knew gluten was in bread. I knew it was in anything made with wheat flour, but I had no idea of the more hidden sources of gluten in our American food supply. Just to give you a couple of examples, gluten is in some brands of deli meat. It's in a lot of summer sausage and beef stick brands. It's in some ice creams for heaven's sakes. And it's even in some medicines. Not only that, but when you have celiac, you have to be careful about personal care items too. You need to be sure you're buying gluten-free shampoo, gluten-free toothpaste, gluten-free lotion and gluten-free makeup.

TERESA: Yeah, it's so crazy to me that gluten is an ingredient in so many everyday non-food products. It reminds me of a client who had ongoing migraine headaches. We had gone through an elimination where we eliminated the dietary sources of what we thought could be causing the migraines. And we went through lifestyle habits that we thought could possibly be causing the migraines. When we finally looked at her personal care products and switched to a shampoo without added gluten, her migraines, they disappeared. So Cassie, you being the expert on gluten, how do you know… how can you find… because certainly it doesn't say in an obvious way on our personal care products.

CASSIE: No, it does not. No, it's, yeah. It's not obvious. I wish it would just say gluten if it was in there, but there's so many like more, scientific, long names that you need to be looking for. So, what I do personally, and I would recommend consumers out there that need to avoid gluten and personal items do this as well. I have a website that I love and that I trust. it's The author of the articles on this website is Jane Anderson. And she's a health writer that has celiac disease herself. And I've been using this website for a number of years and it hasn't failed me yet. And she regularly updates it. So typically she does different foods. Like I was telling Teresa before we went on air, Thanksgiving is coming up.

Tips for a Gluten-free Thanksgiving

You know, if some, if a family member is going to host, although I don't know what we're doing this year. But if we do our typical Thanksgiving, I will get on this and look at the latest update of what are the gluten-free turkey brands available. And then I'll let our Thanksgiving host know that and she'll buy a gluten-free turkey. But they all, Jane Anderson also has personal care products. So I just printed off her latest one, April 9th, 2020. It's titled The 9 Best Gluten-Free Shampoos. She lists Avalon Organics. Jason is another brand; Acure (A. C. U. R. E.), is another brand. And she has some more. And then if you want to get really technical, she actually spells out those scientific names that you're looking to avoid in an ingredient list. So yeah, I highly recommend that website.

TERESA: Yeah. That's a really helpful resource. And those brands that you named, I think I've seen those at Target or at least Whole Foods. So there they are in your regular stores. And you know, some people believe that having a gluten sensitivity is just a fad, but as a dietitian who works with clients daily, I see many adverse health effects that disappear when people choose to no longer eat gluten grains and replace those carbs with vegetables. Sure, sometimes it can be challenging for my clients to think about lunch without a sandwich as an option, but they are willing to make that switch. And of course I help them make that switch as far as “Let's come up with some easy lunch items that aren't a sandwich”. But by doing so, they have eliminated a major source of their inflammation, discomfort, or pain.

CASSIE: Right. And your client's story, the one with the shampoo and the migraines, it jogged my memory. It made me think of when I first started at Nutritional Weight & Wellness almost 15 years ago now. So that was before our family had discovered that we had to go gluten-free. And I remember the first client that I had in my office that was living the gluten-free lifestyle. And back then I was so addicted to bread. I could not fathom a life without gluten. So this was fascinating to me that this lady was living without eating gluten. And I remember asking her, “Was it hard to give up all of those gluten-containing foods that you loved?” And she didn't even hesitate. She said, “No.” She said it wasn't hard for her because once she made the connection that it was the gluten making her joint pain unbearable, she said from then on, whenever she looked at a muffin or baked bread or pasta, she saw pain. And so that made it easy.

TERESA: Oh sure.

CASSIE: Yeah. I'll never forget that. She said “I see pain when I look at, you know, anything contained gluten.”

Looking for relief from pain and inflammation? Schedule an appointment with one of our nutritionists today for personalized nutrition counseling!

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TERESA: Well, you are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition, brought to you by Nutritional Weight & Wellness. We are living in a very stressful time. A few weeks ago, one of my clients commented to me that she had an extreme fear of the coronavirus. She then said, “I realized I'm doing everything I can to support my immune system. I eat four home-cooked meals daily. I eat only organic foods. I'm not eating sugar. I'm a hundred percent gluten-free. I'm either walking outside or doing yoga daily. I'm taking sufficient amounts of vitamin D3 to keep my vitamin D level over 50. I'm sleeping at least seven and a half to eight hours every night. I take five milligrams of melatonin before bed so I sleep through the night, and I'm actively volunteering to help people, which makes me feel good. When I realized all of the health habits I have now, because of what I learned from you, I am no longer afraid. I am in charge of my health and I feel great.” And it's so rewarding for me to work with these clients and hear their positive outlooks. This is an example of what nutritional counseling is all about. Let's face it. Most people need to feel in charge of something, particularly now during the COVID-19 situation. And feeling in charge of their health is a positive way that they can deal with these stressful times.


CASSIE: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. If you're just joining us, my name is Cassie. I'm in studio with Teresa and we're discussing the link between osteoporosis and other autoimmune diseases and a gluten sensitivity. Before we jump back into that topic, I just want to say, if you feel like you need help practicing good health habits to support your immune system, being that we are not only in the middle of a pandemic, but we're coming up upon cold and flu season as well, I personally would like to suggest that you look into taking our 12-week series called Nutrition for Weight Loss. We are offering this program via our live Zoom format, and we're trying to keep the class numbers low so that everybody can receive personalized attention and get the support that they need to be in charge of their health. So you're going to want to sign up early if you're interested, because we are keeping those class numbers low. And if you sign up for one of our upcoming October start dates, we have a sale going on. We are offering $50 off when you sign up for either the October 26th start date or the October 28th start date. So I'll tell you the October 26th, if you didn't know, is this Monday. That class is over the noon hour. So, from 12-1 for 12 weeks, every Monday, you will meet from 12-1. If evenings work better, the Wednesday, October 28th start date runs from 6:00 PM to 7:00 PM. And being a part of this 12-week series is a great way to help you stay on track through the holidays. But it is so much more than just losing pounds. This series is also a wonderful way to learn how to support your immune system. So, if you're interested, call the office at (651) 699-3438. You can either ask any questions you have, or you can sign up, or you can go to our website to learn more or to sign up at So where were we Teresa? We were, oh, I was telling the story about my client that sees pain every time she looks at gluten. Maybe we should talk about what happens when those types of clients swallow a bite of bread.

What does a gluten sensitivity feel like for most people?

TERESA: Sure. Yeah. So what happens to people who have a gluten sensitivity when they eat a piece of bread or a small bite of a cookie, or even a slice of lunch meat that has gluten in it, the food travels through the stomach and into the small intestines, which triggers the release of zonulin. Zonulin then signals the small intestinal wall to open up small areas that would result in a condition called intestinal permeability. Some people call this condition leaky gut. When I was explaining this to a client of mine, she said, “Oh, I get it. It's kind of like nylons versus fishnet stockings”. And I was like, “Perfect. You have the visual.”

CASSIE: And I love it when we can get a visual that helps us remember better and understand better.

TERESA: Yes. So, if you could look at inside your intestinal lining, you would see how easy it is for microbes, toxins and partially digested food particles to pass through the lining and get into your bloodstream when you have intestinal permeability.

CASSIE: Right. Great explaining Teresa. So I really hope the listeners are pausing now in visualizing what Teresa is saying. So if you have intestinal permeability and you are sitting, listening to us eating toast this morning, so that will be gluten, right? When you eat that gluten, zonulin is released and it's that zonulin… I always, you know, I think fishnet stockings are a great visual. I always visualize all these doors in our intestinal tract fly open when we eat gluten and the zonulin gets released. So now all the doors fly wide open and the toxins and the microbes and chunks of partially digested food get into our bloodstream. And our immune system says, “What the heck is going on?” It doesn't recognize any of those things because they're not meant to be in our blood. So, our immune system thinks they're bad guys. It thinks all this stuff is dangerous invaders and it initiates an attack. And this creates inflammation. Now keep in mind, it's natural for our immune system to respond to a bad virus or a bad bacteria. But when every time we eat gluten, you know, our doors are opening up and microbes and chunks of food are flying into our bloodstream, and our immune system is responding. This is when it just creates a lot of havoc. And when the immune system starts attacking food particles, it can result in chronic inflammation. So, for many, this intestinal permeability, not overnight, but when it's happening day after day, year after year, this is the connection to the development of autoimmune diseases.

TERESA: If you will have an autoimmune disease, that means for some reason, your own immune system has become confused and has started to attack your body's own tissue. So it's you attacking you. This autoimmune condition may be lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, lichen planus, MS, dermatitis, or any other autoimmune condition. The majority of people did not develop their autoimmune condition overnight. Inflammation is your immune system's natural response to anything it sees as dangerous to your body. So the coronavirus is a perfect example of the fact that inflammation is a result of the immune system trying to control the virus. The inflammation is trying to fight off that virus. We hear reports that medical professionals are now using steroids to control the inflammatory response to the coronavirus. Unfortunately, for some people with intestinal permeability, the gluten and even a small bite of birthday cake can lead to chronic inflammation. And like Cassie said, if that goes on day after day, month after month, year after year, an autoimmune disease may develop.

CASSIE: Yes. And I want us to focus on two points of this autoimmune story: two facts. First of all, like you just repeated, Teresa, an autoimmune disease for most all people does not occur overnight. And the second thing we want to talk further about is that gluten seems to be such a big factor in the development of an autoimmune disease for a lot of people.

So let's talk a little bit more about the biochemistry here. Every time your body is exposed to a bad virus or a bad bacteria, your immune system memorizes the structure of that invader. It's kind of like your immune cells have their own little brains with a memory. And they're able to remember what that invader looks like, so that if you come across that same virus, you know, a year later, your body can recognize it and initiate an attack right away and fend it off. And you might not even know you came across that virus for a second time. So, there's great reason why mother nature developed this memory into our immune cells, but that ability to memorize the shape of the invader is not really an exact science. In other words, the memory of our immune cells is not perfect.

Now, knowing this, I want you to realize that gluten is a pretty large protein and it actually resembles some of our own body tissue. In particular, gluten looks similar to our thyroid tissue. Are you putting together the puzzle pieces? Gluten resembles the thyroid tissue, so for many people, if they have a gluten sensitivity, either knowingly or unknowingly, every time they eat cold breakfast cereal, or pasta, or a granola bar, their body attacks the gluten and it often attacks their thyroid too.

TERESA: If you can just remember, especially all of you who have an autoimmune condition, every time you eat gluten, your immune system sends out white blood cells to search and destroy the foreign invader, which in this case is gluten. And we are going to talk more about that when we come back. You are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. During this last week of October, we are offering a 15% savings on all of our Key Bone Building supplements. When we return from break, Cassie, we'll share a client success story. So be sure to stay tuned.


CASSIE: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. As Teresa mentioned, when we went to commercial a couple of minutes ago, I have a client story to share; a success story. We had a client by the name of Jennifer come to see us years back. And she was diagnosed with osteoporosis at a young age. And both her and her nutrition counselor in hindsight will tell you that that osteoporosis was a result of over-exercising and eating a very low-fat diet. But after regular nutrition counseling appointments, after changing her diet and consistently taking a great bone-building product called Key Osteo Plus, Jennifer's last bone density test show that she no longer has osteoporosis. She now has normal bone density. I don't think Jennifer believed that a normal bone density was possible for her. I don't think a lot of people realize that, that you can actually heal those bones and get back to a normal state. But Jennifer did, keep in mind, she was very committed. She followed the meal plan as she was told. She took the Key Osteo Plus consistently, and it paid off. The results were more than she ever thought possible. And she's not the only one. We've had several clients over the years who've experienced these same amazing results. So if any of you listening have been diagnosed with osteoporosis, or maybe you've been diagnosed with osteopenia, which is that step right before osteoporosis, we can help. Give us a call at (651) 699-3438. You can ask any questions you have, or you can set up a phone or a live Zoom appointment with one of our registered dietitians or licensed nutritionists. And I have good news for any of you who sign up for a nutrition counseling package during this month of October. If you sign up for a package, which is three nutrition consultations, you get $135 off. So if you've been putting off picking up the phone and making that appointment, October is the month to do it.

Gluten's Connection to Thyroid Disease

TERESA: Okay. So before break, we were talking about how, if you have an autoimmune disease or especially for those with an autoimmune condition, every time you eat gluten, your immune system sends out white blood cells to search and destroy the foreign invaders, which like in this case, if you're eating gluten would be gluten. So, some of you may be wondering, “Why are the thyroid glands so affected?” Well, we know that 20 million people have a thyroid condition. It may be hyperthyroidism, which is an overactive thyroid condition, or it could be hypothyroidism, an underactive thyroid condition. The gluten protein looks just like the thyroid tissue. So the white blood cells mistakenly attack the thyroid tissue. If you have an autoimmune thyroid condition, such as Graves' disease or Hashimoto's thyroiditis, every time you eat gluten, your immune system sends out antibodies or white blood cells to detect and destroy the gluten because the antibodies think the gluten is an invader. The problem is the gluten protein looks very similar to your own thyroid tissue. So those antibodies end up attacking your thyroid gland.

CASSIE: So bottom line: if you have an autoimmune thyroid disease, the antibodies that get released every time you eat gluten bind to the thyroid gland, resulting in inflammation and thyroid dysfunction. Now, for some people, your first telltale symptoms will be a slow metabolism; fatigue. It might be constipation. If you're struggling with some of these symptoms and you are sitting there thinking right now, “Gee, I wonder if those are because of a thyroid problem or because of something else,” I recommend that at your next doctor appointment, you ask for these tests.

To check your thyroid, first of all, you want to ask for a TSH. That stands for thyroid stimulating hormone, but you just need to ask for TSH. That's often one of the first tests the doctor will order, and easy to get that tested. The other test you might have to ask for a couple of times before the doctor agrees, but remember you are the customer. You are paying the doctor, so push for what you need. So here are the other tests: you want a free T4 and a free T3. And then you also want to ask for your thyroid antibodies. And Teresa, as you and I were talking before the show today, there's a difference between total T4 and free T4 and total T3 and free T3.

TERESA: Yes. And it gets confusing when you're in there because the thyroid is actually a very complicated organ to work with and to talk about. The reason why we want to see free T3 and free T4 is because the free versions of that hormone are not bound to anything. So, they're available and in the bloodstream for you to use, as they should be used. The T3 especially is the one that makes you feel things. So that's the one that revs up your metabolism, and it's the one that makes you feel good and energetic and all those things. So, we really want to know which one is not all bound up. We want to know the free, which one's available to use. So that's why we asked for the… when we ideally, when we're talking to clients, it's easier to use the free T3, free T4.

CASSIE: It just tells us more.

TERESA: It tells us more.

CASSIE: Remember that word “free”.

TERESA: Yes. And then the antibodies are so important.

CASSIE: Yes. The antibodies for some people are the most important test. This test helps determine if you have inflammation in your thyroid, and an inflamed thyroid doesn't work very well. So, you're likely going to have symptoms, whether it's the fatigue or the slow metabolism or hair falling out, being cold all the time. Those are symptoms as well. You know, when you stop and think about, it's pretty amazing and pretty annoying, really, how gluten can so negatively affect your thyroid function. And it's just mind-boggling to think how gluten can spark other autoimmune diseases as well. And remember, it only takes a very small amount of gluten to create a cascade of inflammation. So bottom line, it just doesn't pay to eat even a bite of gluten if you think you have a sensitivity.

TERESA: Developing an autoimmune disease may perhaps be related to a genetic predisposition, or it could possibly could be a combination of genetic predisposition plus poor nutrition, lifestyle factors, or even environmental exposures. We know that in the U.S. about 75% of people who develop an autoimmune disease are women. Remember, an autoimmune disease is a disease caused by the immune system attacking its own cells, tissues, or organs. Type-one diabetes is an example. Pernicious anemia is an example. We have so many different autoimmune conditions, but today what we want to get to is osteoporosis and its connection.

Gluten, Bone Strength and Osteoporosis

CASSIE: Yes. Right. So, let's turn our attention to how gluten can affect our bone density or our bone strength. I think it's interesting to realize that osteoporosis, and if you're not familiar… I think most people know what it is, but I'll just give a brief definition. Osteoporosis is a disease of the bone that makes a person's bones weak and more likely to break. And osteoporosis is the 11th leading cause of death in this country. And maybe that's a surprise to a lot of you. Here are a couple of more statistics that I think are surprising.

One in two women, one in two over the age of 50 will break a bone because of osteoporosis. When we look at the male population, one in four men over the age of 50 will break a bone due to osteoporosis. You know, as I was driving out of our neighborhood today to get to I-94 to come to the radio station, we have so many neighbors this year that have really decorated their yards to the hilt for Halloween.

And so, there's a lot of skeletons. Some are standing up. Some are hanging from the trees. And it just made me think of our topic today. And, you know, certainly if we were to dig up a live skeleton, that is dead bone, but stop and think about the skeleton inside of your body. That's very much alive. If you have healthy bones, you're constantly getting rid of old bone cells and rebuilding new bone cells. And in addition to holding you upright, your bones are important for a healthy immune system. All of our red and white blood cells are made in our bone marrow. So that's that connection between the immune system.

Now we've talked a couple of times already: we've said it here in the show today that gluten grains are very inflammatory for a lot of people. Because of my family's own gluten sensitivities, I've been researching this topic for the past decade. I'm constantly reading research and reading books on this topic of gluten and its connection to autoimmune disease and other ill health effects. So, I brought a little bit of that research to share. This research was published back in 2007. And it found that inflammation is what triggers the shift from healthy bones to osteoporosis. So, knowing that doesn't it make sense that to maintain healthy, strong bones, you need to control inflammation as much as possible? Get rid of it as you can, but control it as much as possible. So, what I'm saying is getting gluten grains out of your diet could save your bone density.

TERESA: So many of you may be thinking, “Well, what is the leading cause of inflammation?” And if you haven't caught it from this show or from any of our other shows, our diet can be a leading cause of inflammation. We have said it many times today, but to really get the point across: gluten grains are one of the biggest culprits. Gluten has been found to create inflammation in the gut. It also creates systemic inflammation, which means there's inflammation in other areas of the body. About 1% of the U.S. population has celiac disease, which is a genetic autoimmune reaction to gluten. But I have recently read reports that found that 40% of the U.S. population currently has a non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

CASSIE: And I know that might sound high to some people. It doesn't sound high to me because back when I was in clinical practice, I saw so many people with a gluten sensitivity. But just full disclosure, I want to let listeners know that some of the other researchers are speculating that it's probably more like 6 to 10% of the general population that has a gluten sensitivity. So the jury is still out on that one. And the research is ongoing. There's also ongoing research, both here in the U.S. and in other countries, looking at the connection between celiac disease and gluten sensitivity and osteoporosis. And there's ongoing research looking at the connection between celiac disease and gluten sensitivity and other autoimmune diseases. So if you have osteoporosis or if you have osteopenia and you are listening to this show, wondering, “Gee, I wonder if a gluten-free diet would help me,” let me share a couple of more outcomes with you that I found in the research.

First of all, osteoporosis, the research shows can be the result of untreated gluten sensitivity or of untreated celiac disease. And this comes in large part from the fact that your small intestine, especially with celiac disease, becomes very damaged if you're not treating that celiac disease by getting the gluten out. And so then you're not absorbing important nutrients, such as calcium and magnesium. And if we're not getting these minerals for our bones, they're going to become weak over time. And because there are so many people with either osteoporosis or arthritis or other autoimmune diseases, research from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri, recommends that everybody should be screened for celiac disease; everybody! And I am on board with this. We know that almost one in 100 people have celiac disease, but the experts say that about 85% of them are walking around undiagnosed. So, I have more I could say on that, but maybe I'll save it for after break.

TERESA: You are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. I too have a success story to share about a mother and daughter who took our last Nutrition for Weight Loss live Zoom series. The mother and daughter signed up together, but they participated in the classes from different locations, each from the comfort of their own home. What a fun way to meet up with your mom!

CASSIE: I love it.

TERESA: Or daughter. In the 12-weeks series, the daughter lost 28 pounds and Bonnie, her mom, lost 23 pounds. Now, every morning they wake up smiling because they feel so good and they have the energy to just leap right out of bed. Remember our next Nutrition for Weight Loss live Zoom series starts this coming Monday, October 26 or Wednesday, October 28th. Check out the times and other pertinent information at


CASSIE: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. We are talking all things autoimmune diseases, osteoporosis, and gluten today. And certainly we are all on the same page. And we know that autoimmune diseases and osteoporosis are serious health problems. And now all of you listening realize as well, that both conditions are the result of chronic inflammation. As dietitians and nutritionists at Nutritional Weight & Wellness, we can work individually with you if you want to try going gluten-free. We are well-versed. We can help you set up an eating plan to reduce that overall body inflammation. We know that eating gluten grains can be a big culprit that causes inflammation, but there can be other reasons as well. And so many times you need that food detective, which we always say, that's one of our hats that we wear, right, at Nutritional Weight & Wellness. We're food detectives. So, you might need the help of a well-versed dietitian or nutritionist to help you figure out what else besides gluten might be contributing to that inflammation, cause it's really important to downplay or get rid of entirely that inflammation to help your body start to heal. If you're interested in signing up for a nutrition consultation, or if you just have questions you want to ask, you can give the ladies at the office a call. Our number again is (651) 699-3438. And sometimes as you talk through things with the ladies at the front desk, they might say, “Oh, I think this particular class, this Zoom class might be better for you”. Or they might say, “Yeah, you sound like you could use an individual consultation.” So, if you're still kind of sitting on the fence, I encourage you to call because you can really talk through things and find the best avenue for you.

Gluten, the Pancreas and Type One Diabetes

TERESA: And like Cassie said, there are many different conditions that have an autoimmune connection, which then as we've talked about in this radio show that those autoimmune conditions also have a connection to gluten. One autoimmune condition that I think sometimes isn't recognized as an autoimmune condition is type-one diabetes. This is a disease of the pancreas, and it is another example of an autoimmune disease. So, is there a connection between a gluten intolerance and type-one diabetes? Researchers have found that approximately 10% of people with type-one diabetes in the U.S. also have celiac disease.

CASSIE: Which says to me, there's a connection, right, in a lot of them, because in the general population, it's like 1% have celiac disease. So, when we look at people with type-one, diabetes, 10% have celiac disease.

TERESA: So, did the habit of eating gluten caused the damage to the tissue in the pancreas of those people? Well perhaps. So, with type-one diabetes, it's our own tissue is attacking… or our own immune system is attacking the tissue of the pancreas. There are 50 to 100 different types of autoimmune diseases. And one of these autoimmune diseases, or I should say another one of these autoimmune diseases is pernicious anemia, which is a condition that our immune system attacks the cells that allow the body to absorb vitamin B12 efficiently, causing a deficiency in vitamin B12. That's kind of a mouthful: efficiently, deficient.

CASSIE: But you did it well.

TERESA: So, the gluten actually damages the lining of the digestive system, further compounding the problem of trying to absorb that vitamin B12. Symptoms of pernicious anemia include fatigue, a sore tongue, tingling in the hands or feet, memory loss, an unsteady gait, which just means kind of unbalanced walking, or heart palpitations. Because of the damage gluten can do to tissues and various organs, we often recommend following a gluten-free eating plan for several months to reduce inflammation. For countless numbers of people, being gluten-free is a very healthy and a very somewhat easy habit to implement to control pain and inflammation. It's just like one of those things where if you're not, if this is a totally new concept, it seems overwhelming, but once you get used to it, it is not a very difficult way to eat. And I'm sure Cassie with having been forced into the gluten-free living lifestyle, it was challenging at first. And then now I bet you hardly have to think about it.

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CASSIE: Right.

TERESA: Unless you're doing something new.

CASSIE: Right. It definitely gets easier. And we were just talking at the last break, Teresa and I, about how far kind of society has come, because I was talking about how, when my oldest who's going to turn 15 in two months here, when he started first grade, that was the first grade where for us, where school lunch was offered. And so back then I made an appointment with the head of food service for our whole school; for all of our schools. Right? So she's the head. So, you think, “Okay, this lady is going to be super knowledgeable, but I'm going to go in and just talk and make sure that we can offer my son a, a safe and gluten-free meal”. And so, I get into her office and she handed this big stack of papers to me. It was about an inch thick. And she said, “Okay, I printed off all of the brands of bread that I can get from my food supplier. And I'm sure there are several in there that don't have gluten. Could you just look through those?” And I just thought to myself, “Wow, here we go.” There's a lot of work to do because here was this lady, head of food service director for many years, and she had no idea that bread contains gluten. You know, these were all wheat types of bread, but she was super willing to work with me. It took a lot of work and hours, but we got it figured out together.

Now compare that to just last week, I met with the food service director at our middle school. So my kids haven't done school lunch for a while. They, they just were done with it and they wanted to do mom's healthy food. And so, I've been packing lunches for the past year and a half. And, and here the other day, my 13-year-old asked if she could try hot lunch again. So, I set up a meeting and, and the lady, I had all my list of things. “Okay. I have to ask her about, you know, “Do you have separate silverware? Do you have a separate prep area?” All these things. And she had it down. They even have a separate oven now to cook the gluten-free food. And, she said, she said, “We are already cooking right now for three other kids with celiac. And then your daughter will be the fourth.” And then she had had a conversation with a mom that is probably going to start her celiac child on hot lunch. So there will be five. So they've been forced into it. And they've, I'd have to say at our school, they have done just an awesome job and I feel really comfortable. So, she's going to try hot lunch next week, starting next week. I only allow one day a week because I like that, you know, I like to give them the benefit, the psychological benefit of, “I feel like the other kids,” but I also want many days of my own organic, good balanced lunches. So, you know what? As we wrap things up today, if you have health problems that have been unresolved for a while, and you think it might be gluten, I encourage you to try giving up gluten grains. Try it for six to eight weeks. Mark that end date on the calendar. Your body will tell you whether or not it's the gluten by the end of those six or eight weeks. It's not an easy task. I can tell you that from experience, but I can also tell you from experience, it's well worth it. If you want a great resource, we have an online class called Going Gluten-Free the Healthy Way, which I had the pleasure of hosting. So, you can find that on And I just want to be sure to say that as the wife and mom of a family who maintains a gluten-free kitchen and who lives a 110% gluten-free lifestyle, I can tell you for certain, it will get easier. It's hard in the beginning, but it gets easier and gluten-free eating, gluten-free cooking gets easier. It eventually becomes your routine and your norm. And it's worth it.

TERESA: Our goal at Nutritional Weight & Wellness is to help each and every person experience better health through eating real food. It's a simple yet powerful message. Eating real food is life-changing. Thank you for joining us today. Be safe and be well.

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