Celiac Disease and Hypoglycemia

Q. Celiac Disease and Hypoglycemia: Are they linked?
A. Yes. Celiac is one of the reactive hypoglycemia causes.

Celiac Disease and Hypoglycemia: Amy Yoder Begley

U.S. Olympian Amy Yoder Begley was diagnosed with reactive hypoglycemia in 2008. She reports that prior to her 2005 diagnosis she was diagnosed with:

“…irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety, ovarian cysts,
lactose intolerance, goiter, hypothyroidism, anemia, amenorrhea, three stress fractures in the tibia, dehydration treated with IV’s after races, osteopenia in the spine, depression, reactive hypoglycemia…”

What is Celiac Disease?

According to the Mayo Clinic, Celiac disease is “…an immune reaction to eating gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye.” If you have celiac, you trigger an immune response in your small intestine when you eat gluten. This can damage your small intestine’s lining (the “villi”) and prevent absorption of nutrients into your body, which can cause severe physiological issues. Typical symptoms include:

  • Bloating
  • Weight loss
  • Diarrhea
  • Anemia
  • Osteoporosis
  • Skin rash
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Joint pain
  • Acid reflux / Heartburn
celiac disease and hypoglycemia.

Celiac disease and hypoglycemia: The villi in the small intestines are damaged in celiac disease. Image: UCLA.

Why Does Celiac Disease cause Reactive Hypoglycemia?

With celiac, simple carbohydrates are absorbed through the stomach lining. More complex carbs, which should be absorbed in the small intestine, may not be absorbed at all because of damage to the villi.

Will My Symptoms Go Away When I Stop Eating Gluten?

That’s difficult to say. Most of your symptoms should disappear when you stop eating gluten, but if you’ve done significant damage to your villi over time, your reactive hypoglycemia may continue to be an issue even after you have eliminated gluten from your diet. If you are still experiencing reactive hypoglycemia symptoms after a diagnosis of celiac disease, you may have to follow a reactive hypoglycemia diet, which includes the elimination of simple carbs like white bread and pasta, soda, and sugary cereals.

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