What do you do if you go gluten-free and don’t feel any better? As a general rule, one of the next things you should do is investigate dysbiosis, aka imbalances in bacteria and fungus in the gut. Let’s discuss a study that found that those with celiac had higher levels of fungus in their guts.
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Having Gluten Allergy and Celiac Can Increase Risk for Intestinal Fungal Overgrowth and Candida
Dr. Michael Ruscio: Hey, everyone! This is Dr. Ruscio. Let’s discuss what to do if you go gluten-free, but you still don’t feel any better. Really, one of the first things that you should do is investigate if there is dysbiosis in your gut. Dysbiosis is a general term that means imbalances in bacteria, fungus, or some of the other life that lives inside your gut.
Now, a recent study looked specifically at how much fungus those with celiac disease have in their gut compared to healthy controls. Now, I’ll put this study abstract here on the screen. And give you a few quotes here. There are 45 celiac patients versus controls. And they detected that the patients with celiac, 33% of them had candida-type of fungus, whereas only 0% of the controls had it. And for saccharomyces, another type of fungus, 33% was found in the celiac group and only 10% was found in the controls. And there was also no difference in any of the parasites that were mentioned.
So what this shows us is that there is significantly more of different types of fungus in the gut of those with celiac compared to healthy controls. Also, that the amount of parasites between celiac and those of the control is actually the same. Why this is important is sometimes, especially in certain circles on the Internet, you get this narrative that parasites are the underlying cause of everyone’s problems, and especially gut problems. And if you can’t improve your gut problems, it’s because you can’t clear this parasite that just can’t be found and can’t be tested and can’t be eradicated.
And I think that’s an erroneous assumption. It was something, I think, from several years ago that was a well-intentioned thought, but it’s really not something that is borne out in my clinical experience, nor is highly reflected in the research literature, as we see here today.
So those with celiac have more fungus. So what does that mean? Or why does that happen? It likely happens because of two general reasons. One, when you have celiac…And we could potentially make this argument for also non-celiac gluten sensitivity, where people have an intolerance to gluten that’s not a full-blown autoimmune response as there is in celiac.
So when you have this intolerance to gluten, it’s going to do two general things: one, damage your intestinal cells, and that damages the immune system in the gut. That makes it harder for your immune system to regulate things like fungus and bacteria. Also, when the intestine is damaged, it can’t secrete as many enzymes needed to break down carbohydrates. And when you don’t break down carbohydrates, they’re left lingering in the gut. And then, the carbohydrates feed that bacteria and fungus in the gut.
So if your intestines don’t break these things down and then allow you to absorb them, the carbs hang out in the gut, feed bacteria and fungus, and the bacteria and fungus overgrow. So what should you do?
If you’ve improved your diet…And now, taking gluten out of your diet is not the only thing. You want to have a generally healthy diet that’s devoid of processed foods, artificial sweeteners, added sugars, and focus on fresh, whole foods: healthy meats, healthy fats, vegetables, fruits. Maybe some grains if you don’t have any problem with grains. If you’ve done that, and you’re not feeling any better or you’re only feeling slightly better, one of the next things you should do is have a thorough evaluation for any type of imbalance in your gut, including dysbiosis.
Dysbiosis could look for small intestinal bacterial overgrowth via a breath test and things like fungus, which can be tested via saliva, blood, or stool. And then, if there is an imbalance, treating that, according to some of the clinical literature and certainly in my clinical experience, can certainly help you. So it’s not the only thing to do, but it’s one of the next things to consider should you go on a gluten-free diet and not notice that you feel much improved.
So great study here that shows that those with celiac, and I think this would also apply if we do the study on those with non-celiac gluten sensitivity, to some extent, have an increased level of fungus in the gut. Something to consider if you change your diet and you’re still not feeling much better.
This is Dr. Ruscio. And I hope this information helps you get healthy and get back to your life.
If you need help with celiac or a gluten allergy, click here.
To be notified when my print book becomes available & get a free gut health eBook, click here.
If you are a healthcare provider looking to sharpen your clinical skills, click here.
What do you think? I would like to hear your thoughts or experience with this.
Dr. Ruscio is your leading functional and integrative doctor specializing in gut related disorders such as SIBO, leaky gut, Celiac, IBS and in thyroid disorders such as hypothyroid and hyperthyroid. For more information on how to become a patient, please contact our office. Serving the San Francisco bay area and distance patients via phone and Skype.