Celiac disease may increase the risk of asthma by 60 percent, according to research. For every 100,000 people with celiac disease, 147 will develop asthma, which would not have occurred if it weren’t for the digestive disorder. The study found that asthmatics were also more likely to develop celiac disease.
The researchers compared over 28,000 Swedes diagnosed with celiac disease to over 140,000 healthy controls.
Lead researcher Dr. Jonas Ludvigsson explained that his study only shows an association and does not prove causation. He explained, “Personally, I think the role of vitamin D deficiency should be stressed.”
Celiac patients are also known to have a higher risk of developing osteoporosis and tuberculosis due to low vitamin D levels.
“Another potential mechanism could be that asthma and celiac disease share some immunological feature. If you have it, you are at increased risk of both diseases,” Dr. Ludvigsson continued.
Previous studies explored whether avoiding wheat is a viable option for asthmatics as a means of reducing asthma-related wheezing. Even if one does not have celiac disease, they may still have a reaction to gluten – albeit a different one! The problem is, the wheat we eat nowadays is a mass produced crop that is manipulated to amplify harvest yields. The downside of this is, the rates of celiac disease and gluten sensitivity increase as well.
The Asthma and Allergy Foundation does suggest that gluten can trigger asthma. Their website states, “The most commonly reported symptoms seen with wheat allergy include: atopic dermatitis, urticaria, asthma, allergic rhinitis, anaphylactic shock, and digestive symptoms.”
Roughly half of asthmatics are found to also possess a food allergy.
Although not proven, limiting or avoiding gluten or wheat altogether may be beneficial if you have asthma. Try going gluten-free for some time and see if your asthma improves. Wheat is known to be a pro-inflammatory food, which may lead to asthma-related symptoms.