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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

ABSTRACT

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.

INTRODUCTION

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.
Melissa
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.

brain health – part 1

In case you’re wondering, that’s a brain reading an anatomy book. I’ll get back to that in a minute, but first I’d like to set the stage with a little yogic diversion.

I have a long-standing, very committed yoga practice and spend a good deal of my time in yoga-induced, la-la-land. Quite often upside down.

Wait, keep reading.

I’m not enlightened or anything. Far from it. I don’t sprinkle cosmic fairy dust around and although I’ve completed hundreds of hours of yoga teacher training, I still can’t pronounce most of the Sanskrit blah-blah-blahsanas. But, I’m serious when I say that yoga is my medicine. I mean that in a practical and qualitative sense. I was diagnosed with celiac disease many years ago and the healing power yoga has had on my life is profound. Plus, it’s cognitive therapy for my billions of neurons. Who wouldn’t benefit from that? Especially if gluten has played havoc on those neurons. 

But — meditation to go with my yoga?

Now that’s a different story. Although I’ve meditated on and off for decades (honestly, decades), I’m a fairly incompetent meditator. I need to be moving to clear my mind and find a peaceful rhythm for my ricocheting thoughts. Moving meditation is intensely satisfying, but I find it very difficult to sit in sukhasana (ironically called easy pose) in a silent attempt to clear my mind and be present. Don’t get me wrong, I think meditation is an amazing opportunity for positive transformation, I just like to move and let my neurons play pin-ball while I’m transforming.

Yes, I’m a touch ADD-ish. You know, that’s not always a bad thing. Mind-wandering research (imagine that) suggests that day-dreaming activates different problem-solving areas of the brain that don’t normally work together. It’s a good way to foster bipartisan, across the aisle (or hemispheres in this case), neural networking. Some of our most insightful moments come when we allow our thoughts to surf, drift and bounce around.

I say, let that ship sail.

But I digress.

This post is about healthy neurological function, but the above preamble is an important piece to the puzzle. Everything goes together. Nutrient-dense foods, movement, balance, mind-body connections, quality sleep, stress reduction, brain gymnastics, mind wandering. They’re all part of healing and thriving and every puzzle piece plays an important role in overall health and neurological aging. One of my interests is how gluten, as a neurotoxin, impacts mental and physical health, but regardless, this is pertinent information for anyone with a brain.

I’ll get to the nutrition piece in brain health – part 2, a post that will follow, so stay tuned. But first I’d like to set the stage with a few points to ponder. Put on your geek hat and fire up those neurons – this is interesting stuff (at least in my nerdy world).

Awe-inspiring brain facts (random stuff to blow your mind)

The human brain contains about 100 billion neurons (yes, that’s billion with a b). A neuron is a specialized cell that transfers information via electrical and chemical signaling. We want to keep our neurons happy and healthy so they can chat with each other in zippy harmony.

Nutrient-dense foods, exercise, yoga, meditation and cognitive activity can stimulate the creation of new neurons throughout life. You’re never too old to improve your brain function or your neurological health. Play chess, do crossword puzzles, skip, bend, twist and watch Jeopardy while balancing in tree pose.

Research suggests that yoga increases GABA levels. GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) is the brain’s primary inhibitory neurotransmitter. It’s the anti-anxiety, mellow-mood neurotransmitter. More is good, especially if you can boost your GABA levels in non-pharmacological ways. Yoga as valium.

Stress and poor sleep can contribute to cognitive decline. Yoga and meditation help reduce stress and promote quality sleep. Ommmm = Zzzzzz. I’m working on the meditation part.

Pull out your map and compass. Brain scans of elite London taxi drivers revealed a much larger hippocampus than in normal subjects. The hippocampus is the area of the brain associated with memory retention and navigation. These taxi drivers have a detailed mental map of the convoluted London streets stored in their grey matter. More evidence that the actual structure of the brain can change. This is called neuro-plasticity – changes in brain cells and the connection between them to encode new information. Beware, driving in London can cause severe stress. Breathe in, breathe out.

The human brain uses 20% of the body’s energy, but comprises only 2% of its mass and on average weighs about 3 pounds. Lots of bang for your buck in that little package.

At only 4 weeks from conception, a human fetus is producing 250,000 brain cells every minute. WOW!

Exercise is linked to the growth of new brain cells.

Your brain uses about 12 watts of power, less than your refrigerator light.

The human brain produces an average of 70,000 thoughts per day. How do they know that? Really.

The olfactory neurons in your nose die off on a regular basis, but are continually replaced. Humans have 12 million smell receptor cells. Sounds like a lot, right? Bloodhounds have 4 billion. Sniff, sniff.

Research shows that meditation boosts attention, processing speed and response times.

Think about how you think (or something like that). The power of positive thought and the intention of mind-body harmony can be more effective than drugs. See Professor Funk’s video below about shiny shit – his words, not mine. This is called the placebo effect. Our beliefs and thoughts directly impact our cellular physiology, so have a good attitude.

Thank you to my friends at I Heart Guts for the use of that handsome little brain reading Gray’s Anatomy and to the folks at Lumosity for some of the brainy fun facts.

Peace, love and joyous neurons!
Melissa

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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(co-written with Pete Bronski)



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