People with cirrhosis of the liver are more than twice as likely to be celiacs.

A new study published in the Journal of Hepatology has found that celiac disease is present in cirrhosis patients at more than double the rate found in the general population. Putting these patients on a gluten free diet brought about improvements in their liver health, which improved the prognosis of the cirrhosis.

The authors of the study stressed that all patients who are diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver should be screened for celiac disease, as following a gluten free diet is a safe and effective way of improving outcomes in cirrhosis. Obviously cirrhosis of the liver can be caused by many different factors; high alcohol intake and hepatitis B or C are the most common. It is possible that having celiac disease speeds up the deterioration in liver health caused by those factors.

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, vitamin D and other fat soluble vitamins (A,E and K), and essential fatty acids.

People with celiac disease are more likely to develop an autoimmune liver disease such as autoimmune hepatitis, primary biliary cirrhosis and sclerosing cholangitis. Most celiacs do not develop one of these diseases though. Interestingly, elevated liver enzymes on a blood test is a common finding in someone with celiac disease, as is an increased prevalence of fatty liver disease. Therefore we recommend regular liver function tests for all celiacs. The earlier an abnormality is detected, the earlier a treatment plan can be set in place and the better the outcome.

An excessively permeable intestinal lining (leaky gut) is present to varying degrees in all autoimmune conditions, but particularly undiagnosed celiac disease. When wastes, toxins and bacteria leak through the gut wall, where do they go? Straight to your liver. There is one main vein (the hepatic portal vein) that takes all blood from the gastrointestinal tract to the liver. Ordinarily, this is a good thing because this blood is extremely rich in nutrients. Your liver is the hardest working organ in your body and it has a high need for nutrients. Your liver is also designed to trap any bacteria or foreign matter that may have escaped through the gut, preventing it from spreading to the rest of your body. Glutamine is an effective remedy for reducing intestinal permeability. It helps to heal and seal the gut lining.

If your gut is toxic and leaky, your liver will quickly become overwhelmed. There are specialized cells inside your liver called Kupffer cells. They are a type of white blood cell called a macrophage; it comes from the Greek words big eater! The job of a macrophage is to engulf foreign matter, a lot like Pac Man. Macrophages contain enzymes that enable them to digest the debris or toxins they’ve swallowed.

If your gut is leaky, the high level of wastes arriving at your liver will trigger a great deal of inflammation inside your liver. One of the most harmful substances to travel from the gut to the liver is lipopolysaccharide. This is a type of endotoxin. It is a substance found in the cell wall of gram negative bacteria in the gut. If you have an overgrowth of bad bacteria in your gut, and if your gut is leaky, high levels of endotoxins will be arriving at your liver all the time.

Endotoxins stimulate Kupffer cells to produce high levels of inflammatory chemicals called cytokines. Some examples include interleukin 6 (IL6), Tumour Necrosis Factor alpha, and interleukin 1.Typically, the liver will eventually become inflamed and start producing high levels of free radicals known as superoxides. These molecules are highly damaging and can accelerate liver damage caused by alcohol, medications, viruses and other toxins. St Mary’s thistle helps to reduce the production of inflammatory cytokines by Kupffer cells in the liver when they are flooded with toxins coming from a leaky gut. St Mary’s thistle is found in Livatone Plus.

The bottom line is, if you have celiac disease, please look after your liver.


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