My mother suffers from five autoimmune diseases. They wreak havoc on her body as they work to destroy her from the inside out. She suffers from Lupus, Raynauds, Sjogrens, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and the worst of them all, Scleroderma (a connective tissue disorder). The scleroderma has settled in her lungs, creating a calcification, similar to scar tissue. As this continues to build up in her lungs, it suffocates the tiny bronchial pathways, making it extremely difficult to breath. For over a year now she has relied on oxygen to give her life. In late August I went with my parents to the University of Washington Medical Center to meet with a specialist about the possibility of my mother receiving new lungs. The doctor informed us there would be many hurdles to overcome in order to be considered for the list. I was drawn to tears when my mother said to the doctor, “Please, if you will help me get new lungs, I will be a poster child for you.” The doctor gently rubbed the top of her head and replied, “You already are…you already are.” My mother is a fighter. She is strong in spirit and has a determined will to live. She wants to hold her first great-grandchild in her arms come August. I believe she will.
There have been many interesting articles connecting autoimmune diseases with gluten intolerance or celiac disease. The problem tends to stem from compromising the small intestine. An interesting article was written by Health Now Medical Center called,
Is Gluten Intolerance the Cause of Autoimmune Disease?
A portion of the article states, “Now, more recent research reveals that perhaps a vast number of autoimmune diseases may also involve an immune response to dietary gluten. It turns out that an enzyme in the gut called tissue transglutaminase (tTG) is a primary player in the cause of why gluten destroys the small intestine in celiac disease. Interestingly this enzyme is not solely present in the gut. It is in fact present throughout the human body. Now imagine gluten moving through your blood stream. (Remember, it got there due to a leaky gut.) The gluten comes in contact with tTG in the thyroid and autoimmune thyroid disease results. It comes in contact with tTG in the joints and rheumatoid arthritis results. And potentially on and on it goes to include many of the 100s of autoimmune diseases afflicting millions of Americans. Can you now see why gluten has such far-reaching effects that damage other systems of the body?”
My mother was never diagnosed with a gluten intolerance, but I’m most certain she was never tested for it. It is quite interesting to me, however, that three of her four children suffer from a gluten intolerance or celiac disease. My sister, who is gluten intolerant, has dealt with thyroid disease most of her life. My daughter, who is gluten intolerant as well, has an autoimmune disease called ITP. It is not to say that every autoimmune disease stems from a reaction to gluten, however, it does indicate a strong connection gluten can have on the body as a whole. Is there a connection between gluten intolerance and autoimmune disease? It definitely warrants further research.