Leaky Gut Triggers Celiac Disease and Type 1 Diabetes

Leaky Gut Diagram

Diagram from http://therealfoodguide.com/do-you-have-a-leaky-gut/

How does leaky gut trigger autoimmunity?


The research of Dr. Fasano and colleagues disclosed the relationship of gliadin to zonulin in triggering the leaky gut. Wheat contains a very-difficult-to-digest protein named gliadin (one of the proteins in gluten).  When improperly digested gliadin remains intact and stimulates the production of abnormally high amounts of zonulin which opens the tight junctions between the intestinal cells to let substances into the blood stream.


Folks with the gene for celiac disease (gluten sensitivity) produce 5 times more zonulin than those without the disease. But even the folks without the celiac gene produce elevated levels of zonulin in the presence of gliadin in the gut.


Unfortunately, these abnormal levels of zonulin keep the gate open and those larger food molecules enter the blood stream and set off the autoimmune response. Also unfriendly bacteria and yeast slip into the tissues through these open gates which further stimulates the self-destructive activity of the immune system against one’s own body.


Folks with a genetic propensity for developing celiac disease and Type 1 Diabetes have the same genes that are involved with abnormal intestinal permeability.


Therefore, leaky gut may also be a large factor in triggering Type 1 Diabetes (T1D). Babies who begin eating cereal grains (containing gliadin) at an earlier age are more prone to develop T1D, an autoimmune attack that destroys the insulin-producing Islet cells of the pancreas.


Gliadin in the gut of children with T1D stimulates an inflammatory response of the cells lining the intestine indicating its part in contributing to the development of T1D. Gliadin stimulates the production of increased levels of zonulin as it does in celiac disease (CD), thus opening the barriers and producing the leaky gut problem for these folks with diabetes. Abnormal bacteria and yeast in the gut also increase intestinal permeability.


“Both in CD and T1D gliadin may play a role in causing loss of intestinal barrier function and/or inducing the autoimmune response in genetically predisposed individuals.”


In the past researchers knew that an environmental trigger activated the latent gene for celiac disease into expression of the celiac syndrome. Now they know that the leaky gut contributes significantly to the manifestations of celiac disease and Type 1 Diabetes. Scientists of course start looking for a drug to block the over activity of zonulin, but perhaps there’s a more natural way to deal with the leaky gut problem.


Closing the Leaky Gut

Of course it’s imperative to stop eating wheat and the other gluten containing grains (barley and rye and contaminated oats).  Unfortunately we may become allergic or intolerant of other foods too with this leaky gut problem so take a look at the information on discovering hidden food allergies and how to deal with them.

2 Simple Ways to Soothe Gut Food Allergy Reactions

2 Simple Ways to Soothe Gut Food Allergy Reactions Part 1


And: https://www.drjomd.com/highways/food-allergies/


To prevent the manifestations of Type 1 Diabetes nurse babies for at least 12 months and 24 months may be better. Avoid feeding them any gluten containing grains and supplement with probiotics to help restore normal flora. The main organisms in the bowel of nursing infants is Lactobacillus bifidus so find a probiotic supplement designed for children up to seven years old containing mainly the bifidobacteria.


In our search for healing the gut we’ve already discussed the amazing benefits of simply drinking bone broth with added gelatin or gelatin in tea with meals to aid digestion and perhaps even help seal and rebuild the gut barrier. Gelatin drinks (not with sugar added!) and bone broths are great nutrients for children too. If you need a review, check these articles:


Restore Gut Health with Bone Broth

Restore Gut Health with Bone Broth


9 Amazing Benefits of Drinking Bone Broth



Then it’s also very important to restore the gut flora:

Cultured Food Your Best Probiotics



In summary, 2 devastating autoimmune diseases, celiac disease and Type 1 Diabetes manifest when an environmental trigger like gliadin activates the latent genetic propensity for these diseases. The gliadin then stimulates increased production of zonulin which opens the protective barrier of the cells lining the intestines and allows macromolecules and organisms access to the interior of the body. Of course the immune system attacks these foreign-appearing substances and mounts a response that damages and destroys our own cells.


The Good News

These destructive mechanisms are not self-perpetuating. By applying knowledge wisely we can clean up the gut and close up the leaky junctions between the intestinal cells to repair and rebuild the gut and tissues; and stop the autoimmune and inflammatory responses.



  1. http://diabetes.diabetesjournals.org/content/55/5/1443.long
  1. Ann N Y Acad Sci. May 2009; 1165: 195–205.

doi:  10.1111/j.1749-6632.2009.04037.x


  1. Physiol Rev. 2011 Jan;91(1):151-75. doi: 10.1152/physrev.00003.2008.


About Dr. Jo

Dr. JoDr. Jo delights in sharing the message of health. She believes disease is optional if you know how to take care of yourself. And she’s a great coach to help you reverse or prevent disease.

So she writes this blog to keep you up to date with information that may undermine your health if you are not aware of it. She also provides tips on healthy living, how to reverse degenerative diseases, delicious recipes, and ways to enjoyably change your habits to healthy ones.

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