Thursday, May 06, 2010

Probiotics to Cure Celiac?

Could probiotics and prebiotics lead to a cure for Celiac Disease? It turns out that scientists from the National Spanish Research Council in Valencia, Spain are researching whether dietary changes that include probiotics and/or prebiotics may help alleviate the severity of celiac disease for some patients.

I was just reading a summary news article about this Celiac research, and found it quite interesting how the researchers were essentially simulating, outside of the body, the human intestinal environment / mucosa - and the effects of gluten exposure on that environment with and without the presence of probiotic bifidobacteria (for a source of such probiotic bacterium, consider any yogurts with active cultures -- and, probiotic bacteria are naturally present in your intestinal tract and aid with digestion).

The summary findings of the study were as follows:
"According to a new research study appearing in the May 2010 print issue of the Journal of Leukocyte Biology, differing intestinal bacteria in celiac patients could influence inflammation to varying degrees. This suggests that manipulating the intestinal microbiota with dietary strategies such as probiotics and prebiotics, could improve the quality of life for celiac patients, as well as patients with associated diseases such as type 1 diabetes and other autoimmune disorders."
This conclusion was arrived at after observations noted that bifidobacteria up-regulated the expression of anti-inflammatory cytokines (which is a good thing -- reducing inflammation). It was also noted that this evidence could be the first step toward changing how celiac disease is treated and possibly prevented, but that (as always, and as we would expect of any real treatment possibilities), human clinical trials are necessary.

I have wondered for quite some time whether consuming yogurts with active cultures (like bifidus, acidophilus, bulgaricus, thermophilus, lactobacillus, etc.) would be helpful. Many persons with Celiac Disease, gluten-intolerance, or wheat-allergies, may also have some intolerance to dairy products - including yogurt. But, perhaps the dairy intolerance is due to an intestinal tract lacking sufficient levels of probiotic bacteria? If so, restoring that symbiotic relationship with these beneficial "bugs" in our intestines may help bring some positive outcomes with regard to minimizing the impact and damage of Celiac Disease.

Time will tell, and personal experiences will certainly vary... but, I found this research quite interesting. It is rather widely accepted that probiotics and prebiotics (like inulin e.g., - which we use in our high-fiber gluten-free bread recipes) already are helpful in many ways and with regards to many conditions (even diabetes), and if Celiac Disease can benefit from pro-biotics, count me in on the yogurt eating!


Debra Doherty said...

That's really fascinating. In our house those yoghurts get quite a bit of stick and i'm often ranting about the frequency of ads on TV basically encouraging women to have more poos!
I think with me having IBS and wheat intolerance, i'm different each day. One day one of the yoghurts will be just what I need, the next it'll cause rumblings and bloating. I can't wait for more studies to be done into this and would gladly volunteer to help :)

Peter said...

I have a severe wheat sensitivity, rather than celiac disease. Even small amounts of gluten cause me agony for days. My gastroenterologist just prescribed a procedure to "reboot" my digestive flora.

I'm suppose to take the antibiotic Xifaxan for a week - this doesn't leave the intestinal track so is considered pretty safe. Then I'm suppose to take Align probiotics (Bifidobacterium infantis) for a month.

My insurance is holding up the Xifaxan ( it's really expensive) so I started taking the probiotic to see if it does anything while I wait. It initially gave me rather severe gas but after a week it seems to have really quieted my gut down. To the point that very small amounts of wheat don't seem to do anything.

I've tried yogurt and other probiotic supplements without any impact, but the doctor says this one survives the stomach acids much better and has some other advantages.

It's very exciting that this treatment might also help Celiacs.

pdw said...

I think there is a big difference between decreasing the severity of symptoms and curing celiac disease. Eating yogurt isn't going to stop you from having celiac disease, you still need to avoid gluten.

For some more interest, read a little bit about SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth) and celiac disease. I think you will find it ties right in.

Kattus Petasatus said...

I would not be surprised about this at all. Probiotics especially "live" probiotics like those found in yogurt or Bio-K supplements, rather than frozen ones can really change the entire inside landscape of the body. I was once assaulted by a probiotic enthusiast with an hour-long lecture an am completely sold on them. If nothing else, it sure helps me recover from accidental wheat interactions!

Ina said...

Hi Mike this is an interesting article. I have been gf for 15 years. It took the first 3 years for my body to heal, and I took lots of pro-biotics. If by unhappy chance I get cross contamination, the first thing I do is to take a pro-biotic and vitamin C. It definitely helps with the inflammation. I believe there is a definite benefit for Celiacs and all people to use pro-biotics. Thanks for sharing the article. Ina

smilinggreenmom said...

I totally agree too! Our son suffered from severe Eczema and food intolerance and the one and only thing to really help him was his Belly Boost chewable probiotics. They have been an absolute miracle and we have seen the benefits of a good probiotic. We aren't so much in support of the yogurts for two reasons 1. dairy allergy and 2. you'd really have to eat a TON of yogurt for the same effect of just one chewable! I can't wait to see more research proving their benefits for all of us - we all take ours in our family :)

Michele said...

Decreasing my symptoms sounds good, but would I still have damaged villi causing malabsorption? I hate ending up with chemical imbalance and depression every time I get glutened. I can deal with the stomach pains, bloating, digestive issues and muslce aches, but not the emotional problems.

...I'm sensative to all forms of grain glutens based on the varying amounts of gluten protiens. And I eat plain Mountain High yogurt for breakfast each morning--no added sugar.

Dee said...

That is extremely interestig. I lik you, have been wondering for some time as well if there was any connection. I have found out a couple of weeks ago I have celiac & the damage it has caused has made processing any type of dairy hard. Hopefully as I recover I can add more dairy to my diet including yogurt!

Sara Roberts said...

I have just recently become interested in probiotics and digestive health. I have seen probiotic pills and tried Kefir and yogurt but I just saw probiotic Attune bars at my local grocery store. These bars have live cultures in them and taste great. Some of the Attune products are also gluten free. Have you tried these bars? Do you think I could eat these and benefit like I would from these pills?
Thanks so much!

Mike Eberhart said...

Sarah, I have not seen (and therefor not tried) the Attune products you mention. As long as they are gluten-free, I would expect them to be safe if you want to try them as a source for probiotics. I personally just tend to eat yogurt (or, Kefir as you mentioned) to get my probiotics. I have tried Acidophilus pills before, but they just seemed like an expensive way of getting what is in yogurt, but without the enjoyment of tasting a good yogurt (swallowing pills just isn't the same) :)

dianne said... carries their "house-brand" probiotics (10B CFU) which are completely non-allergenic at a great price.

Anonymous said...

I have been recently found to be gluten and lactose intolerant. Are there any cookbooks that deal with both intolerances? Eating out is miserable and almost always followed by intestinal issues the next day. Cooking at home is boring and repetitious. I am cooking for one so small quantities would be helpful. caa

Mike Eberhart said...

Anon, yes I believe there are a few books out there that will address your dual-allergy needs, but I have no personal experience with any. I would suggest browsing Amazon looking for the combination and see what user-reviews say perhaps. And, if you get a Kindle-version, I think you get 7 days to see if the content is ideal (during which period you can return if you do not think it a fit: don't quote me on this, but I *think* that is their policy). Good luck.

pdw said...

You will find lots of recipes and resources on the internet by searching gfcf (gluten free, casein free).

Some popular picks for books are:
- Special Diets for Special Kids
- Simply Gluten Free and Dairy Free
- Sweet Alternatives
- Cooking Without

Searching "Gluten free vegan" will also find you lots of recipes with no gluten, dairy, eggs, or animal products.

International cuisines are a good choice - Asian, Indian (sub coconut milk for any dairy in curries), African, etc. There are good substitutes for most dairy products, but you may as well get used to cooking without them for a while to let your tastebuds readjust.

nynedeenyne said...

Kefir has far more probiotic activity than yogurt, and the kurd size (smaller) helps it get where it needs to go better. MOst probiotic pills and whatnot aren't nearly as good as Kefir either. Bottom line: go with kefir, it's even low on lactose...and over time it should help you become tolerant of lactose, anyway.

HatGirl said...

I am not a confirmed celiac sufferer, however I was diagnosed 5 yrs ago as having a wheat allergy. After going through childbirth, my body became increasingly sensitive to wheat products to the point of headaches and itching within minutes of consuming a wheat containing item. I developed a small pain in my side that lasted for weeks. For 6 months, I went strictly gluten free, took a probiotic supplement or consumed yogurt, took vitamin D3 (5,000 IU). The ache in my side disappeared. I recently tested out my wheat allergy and experienced no severe headaches or itching within minutes of eating. I am very grateful because it appears my body has reduced a lot of inflammation and I'm not as sensitive as I was before. I need to go and get re-tested for my wheat allergy at the allergist.

Michelle Brown said...

Probitocs worked for me. I was tested for Celiac disease but the results were negative. However it still felt like I was eating glass every time I ate gluten. At the time I started having issues I had been on low dose antibiotics for about a year. (Preventative for bladder infections.) I started probiotics on a hunch. I saw improvement in a couple weeks. I could eat small amounts without hurting or bloating but I couldn't push it. It took about 6 months before I was completely symptom free. I drank Kefir but also used a probiotic called Pearls. They are heavily coated so they break down in the gut not the tummy. Probitocs may not help in all cases but I believe it could help many.