A spread of loaves of bread on a cutting board.

Lupus, Celiac Disease, and Gluten Sensitivity

When my lupus symptoms first started to appear pre-diagnosis I recall the first health issues I had were to do with my stomach and bowel.

I was diagnosed with pernicious anemia in 2000 which is where the body is unable to absorb vitamin B-12. I had a borderline result meaning they weren’t 100 percent sure if my deficiency as a result of pernicious anemia or a malabsorption issue or even both. To rectify this, I have to have vitamin B-12 shots every 8 weeks.

Lupus and digestive issues

Initially, after I started my shots to treat my deficiency, these issues improved. However, they never truly went away and when my health started to decline at a rapid rate, the stomach and bowel issues became really problematic.

I lost about 40 pounds in weight as my appetite was virtually non-existent, and I would often find that I was in so much pain. It would be so bad that I couldn’t sleep. I’d suffer from cramping and diarrhea and a full feeling in my stomach most of the time.

Gluten sensitivity, celiac disease, and lupus

After visiting a naturopathic doctor, I took an intolerance test which showed I was sensitive to gluten. He informed me that I would need to have an endoscopy to reveal if I had celiac disease. He advised me that there is a distinct difference between having a gluten intolerance and being celiac but equally, both can cause a negative impact on one's health!

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease, and the body produces an immune response when it is exposed to gluten and as a result, the lining of the small intestine becomes damaged but you often experience some of the below symptoms with gluten intolerance as well.

Some of the symptoms include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Weight loss
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Bloating
  • Sickness/nausea
  • Acid reflux
  • Mouth ulcers

Interestingly, according to a study published by the British Medical Journal, it can be common for gluten sensitivity to be masquerading as lupus and vice versa!1 As we all know, it can be incredibly difficult to get a lupus diagnosis and it would appear that the clinical markers can be similar for both diseases.

Tests for gluten sensitivity vs. celiac disease

I wasn’t sure if it was a sensitivity to gluten that I was dealing with or full-blown celiac disease, but I decided that I would see how my body reacted when cutting out gluten from my diet.

I set myself a time limit of 12 weeks, and I kept a diary of my symptoms. I did find it surprisingly easy to make the change to my diet, but the only thing I missed was fresh bread!

After the 12 weeks were up I did notice a vast improvement, especially in that my digestion and fatigue were much better.

I have taken a blood test, which has since been developed to see if I have celiac and it came out negative but I strongly feel that if I keep off gluten, it helps to keep my lupus symptoms in check!

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