People with celiac disease are more at risk of several liver diseases. Elevated liver enzymes are a common finding on a blood test in those with celiac disease. Many doctors dismiss this finding, but it should be taken seriously. Getting a liver function blood test is often a good way to check if a celiac is adhering to a gluten free diet. Not sticking to a gluten free diet can result in intestinal inflammation which then spills over into the liver, causing it harm.

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease. That means when people with the condition consume gluten, their immune system attacks their small intestine. The chronic inflammation to the gut lining can impair nutrient absorption and lead to many nutritional deficiencies. The most common ones are iron, calcium, selenium, vitamin D and other fat soluble vitamins (A, E and K), and essential fatty acids.

The excessively permeable gut lining allows a large volume of waste products to diffuse into the bloodstream. They quickly make their way to the liver, where they can cause damage to liver cells and consequent raised liver enzymes. Bacteria, bacterial toxins, fungi, undigested food and waste products can cause significant harm to the liver if they are present in large quantities. This is common in people with celiac disease that has not been diagnosed, or if a person is not adhering to a gluten free diet. It can also occur in people with other bowel conditions such as colitis or Crohn’s disease.

Your liver is one of the most important organs in your body; it performs approximately 500 functions for you. If your liver health is poor, a large number of varied symptoms may develop. Many celiacs experience chronic poor health for much of their life. Fatigue, aches and pains, depression, anxiety and a weakened immune system are common. So too is an increased risk of developing more autoimmune diseases. Improving the health of the liver is critical.

Research has shown that people with celiac disease are three times more likely to be diagnosed with a fatty liver, even if they are not overweight. It’s a good idea for anyone with a fatty liver to be tested for celiac disease, as avoiding gluten can bring about a significant improvement in liver health. Other studies have shown that celiacs are more likely to develop cirrhosis of the liver. This is often a consequence of long term poor liver health that goes undiagnosed or unmanaged.

There is a much greater incidence of autoimmune liver and biliary disease in people with celiac disease. Primary biliary cirrhosis, sclerosing cholangitis and autoimmune hepatitis are examples. If you are a celiac and continue to have elevated liver enzymes despite adhering to a gluten free diet, your doctor should rule out one of these conditions.

How to protect your liver if you’re a celiac:

  • It’s critical to avoid all gluten all the time. Even trace amounts. The inflammatory chemicals your immune system produces when you consume gluten can cause serious tissue damage to your small intestine and liver.
  • A good liver tonic would offer you additional protection. Livatone Plus contains nutrients required for phase 1 and 2 liver detoxification, helping to make your liver more efficient. The milk thistle and n-acetyl cysteine help to reduce inflammation in the liver and enable damaged cells to repair.
  • Selenium is immensely beneficial for anyone with an inflamed liver because it is required for the production of glutathione. This is your body’s own powerful antioxidant and detoxifier. Selenium levels are low in the soils of much of the world, therefore foods tend to be deficient. Anyone with poor digestive health will not absorb selenium well enough from food, therefore supplementation is usually necessary.
  • Your gut may need healing. Avoiding gluten is necessary but often not sufficient to heal the intestinal lining. Sometimes there is an overgrowth of harmful gut microbes present. Intestinal Parasite Cleanse capsules help to address this. My Ultimate Gut Health powder and bone broth are both wonderful for soothing an inflamed gut and enabling faster tissue repair. They help to reduce the toxin load that arrives at the liver from the intestines.
  • People with celiac disease have a higher requirement for probiotics than the average person. Fermented foods like sauerkraut, kim chi and apple cider vinegar are all good sources, as is a probiotic in supplement form.

For more information, please see our book, "Healing Autoimmune Disease".

The above statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease.