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Posts Tagged ‘autoimmune disease’

Sjögren’s Venus & gluten

Last year around this time, Venus Williams dropped out of the U.S. Open and revealed that she was suffering from Sjögren’s syndrome, a chronic autoimmune disorder. Yesterday, the 7-time Grand Slam champion made another early exit from the US Open with a dramatic loss to sixth-seeded Angelique Kerber.

I started this blog (Gluten-Free For Good) in 2007, mainly to increase awareness of celiac disease and help people thrive on the GF diet. Not just get by, but to live active, radiant, and healthy lives. Today’s post was supposed to be part #2 of a series on mitochondria density, elite athletes, weight loss, and exercise, but I decided to put that one on hold to focus on Venus and Sjögren’s.

Hey, did I just hear a collective sigh of relief? I promise, you’ll find the whole mitochondria density thing and weight loss interesting once I get to it.

Okay, some of you will find it interesting.

A few of you?

Anyway, back to Venus, Sjögren’s syndrome, and … gluten.

Sjögren’s is a systemic autoimmune disease in which a person’s white blood cells mistakenly attack their moisture-producing glands causing serious complications throughout the body. Dry eyes and dry mouth are distinct features of the disease, but chronic fatigue, joint and muscle pain, gastrointestinal problems, heartburn, reflux, esophagitis, neurological problems, brain fog, peripheral neuropathy (numbness and tingling in the extremities), abnormal liver function, pancreatic disorders, and Raynaud’s disease (among others) can also be present. Women are disproportionately affected with Sjögren’s (9:1).

Sound familiar?

Sjögren’s is a red flag for celiac disease. It frequently occurs in the presence of another autoimmune disease, often connective tissue disorders like rheumatoid arthritis or lupus. Many of these autoimmune diseases sound like versions of the same thing, with just a few variations. Each condition typically has a few hallmark features, but so many of the symptoms are similar. Autoimmune diseases hang around together.

The gluten-free diet is the medical protocol for celiac disease. Why not for all autoimmune diseases? Gluten causes inflammation. Decreasing inflammation via diet and lifestyle should be the first step in reducing the impact of the disease, so it makes sense to eliminate gluten.


Apparently Venus is on a vegan diet to combat her symptoms. There are rumors she’s dabbling in the gluten-free diet as well.

Go for it, Venus! Eliminate gluten FOREVER.

What are your thoughts? Do any of you have Sjögren’s and celiac disease? Should everyone with autoimmune complications, regardless of what they are, be on a nutrient-dense, whole-foods, gluten-free, dairy-free diet?

That’s my opinion.

Are any of you BFFs with Venus? Her current boyfriend? Sister Serena?

I’d love to send her a copy of our (co-written with friend, colleague, and endurance athlete Peter Bronski of No Gluten, No Problem) newly released book The Gluten-Free Edge: A Nutrition and Training Guide for Peak Athletic Performance and an Active Gluten-Free Life. Tip me off if you know Venus. I’ll send her (and you) a copy of the book.

Peace, love, and gluten-free power serves. (Not that I have a clue about powerful serves. Dink, dink.)

Photo of Venus courtesy of PhotoBucket

Celiac disease and Dupuytren’s contracture

Is there a connection?

I was diagnosed with Dupuytren’s contracture ten years ago. I have it in both my hands and my feet. I also have Celiac disease and have always wondered if the two were related. There’s no sound research indicating comorbidity, but since both are immune mediated, I’m thinking they might be kindred spirits. Comorbidity is the simultaneous presence of two chronic diseases in the same person.

Would you, my bright and nerdy readers, help me do an (un)scientific and peer reviewed (that would be you) study? Having a blog allows for some creative crowd-sourcing, so if you’ll play along, we might be able to pull off an interesting randomized (literally) study on the possible connection between the two autoimmune diseases. But, let’s do this right. Humor me while I switch from gluten-free nutrition blogger to medical researcher.

Celiac disease and Dupuytren’s contracture: are they related?
Jory MM, et al. (et al. refers to all of you)
Research study in progress


Objective: To determine if Celiac disease and Dupuytren’s contracture share common pathophysiological origins and/or genetic associations.
Method: To elicit a response in the comment section from blog readers who have both Celiac disease and Dupuytren’s contracture. People who have Celiac disease and/or Type 1 diabetes should also respond in the comment section. Any combination of the three diseases mentioned, or the suspicion of a combination should be noted.
Conclusion: Pending
Key words: Celiac disease, Dupruytren’s contracture, Type 1 diabetes, autoimmunity, gluten, genetics.


Celiac disease is a genetically predisposed digestive disease in which gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye, causes an immune reaction that damages to the lining of the small intestine. The resulting inability to properly digest (breakdown) and absorb food leads to nutrient deficiencies and a multitude of health issues. The comorbidity between Celiac disease and other autoimmune disorders has been studied extensively and clearly established. According to several research studies, Celiac disease and Type 1 diabetes share common genetic origins and immune mediated tissue damage. Dietary intolerances are found in both diseases. The prevalence of Celiac disease in people who have Type 1 diabetes is about seven times greater than in the general population.

Dupruytren’s contracture is a disease that typically affects the connective tissue in the palm of the hand, although it can also impact the feet. Scarring develops in the fascia covering the tendons that facilitate movement. The fascia becomes thick and shortened, causing the fingers to contract and pull inward. In advances cases, the muscles and tendons involved in gripping become “frozen” and unable to extend. The disease progresses until the fourth (ring) and fifth fingers remain in a permanent flexed position and a loss of mobility occurs. In more extreme cases, all fingers can be implicated. The frequency of Dupuytren’s contracture is ten times greater in people with type 1 diabetes than in the general population.

The main objective of this (un)scientific, blog-sourced study is to determine a relationship between Celiac disease and Dupuytren’s contracture. If there is a genetic and food-related link between Celiac disease and Type 1 diabetes and a genetic link between Type 1 diabetes and Dupuytren’s, could gluten and specific gene markers play a role in all three conditions? Is there a comorbidity between Celiac disease and Dupuytren’s contracture? Should people diagnosed with Dupuytren’s contracture be screened for Celiac disease? Should people with Dupuytren’s contracture go on an anti-inflammatory, gluten-free diet?

Do you have Celiac disease? Do you have Dupuytren’s contracture? Do you have Type 1 diabetes? Do you have any combination of the above? Please leave your answer in the comment section of this blog post. If you don’t want your name associated with your answer, please comment anonymously. Thank you!

Let’s see what we can come up with. Scientifically speaking, although loosely so.

Peace, love and science blogging.
P.S. I chose the above photo because it implied a warm connection between people (all of us) and the image of contracted ring and pinky fingers is exactly what Dupuytren’s contracture looks like.

Disclaimer: All material on this website is provided for informational and educational use only and should not be used for diagnostic purposes. Consult with your physician regarding any health or medical concerns you may have.
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