The Connection Between Celiac Disease and SIBO
Does having Celiac Disease put you at a greater risk for getting SIBO? And if you have SIBO, should you get checked for Celiac Disease?
The short answer is, yes. But if you’re here for a more detailed explanation, no worries.
In this blog post, I’m going to dive into the details behind the connection between Celiac Disease and Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth, or SIBO.
Since I have Celiac Disease, and I at one time had SIBO, the connection between these two conditions is extremely relevant for me. I had no idea that these two diagnoses were so intimately related until after I was well into my SIBO treatment.
My hope is that you’ll be able to use this information to help guide your medical decisions. And that becoming more aware of your risk factors for either of these conditions helps you to become a more empowered patient.
So, if you’re ready to learn all about the connection between Celiac Disease and SIBO, let’s go!
Celiac Disease and SIBO
SIBO, in itself, is not a root cause diagnosis. There are several conditions that tend to be at the root of why you ended up with SIBO in the first place.
Some common potential root causes of SIBO are:
Low stomach acid
And, Celiac Disease.
There are several studies that show there’s a high incidence of SIBO in Celiac Disease patients. Especially if they continue to have gut symptoms on a gluten-free diet.
And while we can’t be certain if one condition makes you more susceptible to the other, there is definitely a relationship between the two.
This connection between Celiac Disease and SIBO is not by accident. There are several mechanisms that make these two conditions so highly intertwined.
The research is still up in the air on this. But it does point towards the idea that Celiac Disease may be driven by certain gut bacteria.
Now, you do have to have the genes for Celiac Disease in order to get it. However, not everyone who carries the Celiac genes actually develops the disease.
This has led to some preliminary research showing that in those cases where Celiac Disease does develop, certain bacterial imbalances are at play.
Specifically, mice that did not have any gut bacteria and mice that had higher levels of the pathogen Proteobacteria were more susceptible to develop Celiac Disease.
There are also studies done in humans that show those with Celiac Disease have an altered gut microbiome. Specifically, decreases in Bifidobacterium and increases Staphylococcus were associated with a higher risk of developing Celiac.
These bacterial imbalances can also lead to other potential gut issues. One of which is SIBO.
While SIBO isn’t necessarily an overgrowth of bad bacteria, it is an overgrowth of any kind of bacteria where they don’t belong.
And if your gut doesn’t have the appropriate balance of good bacteria, SIBO can definitely develop.
This doesn’t mean that Celiac Disease comes before SIBO. The gut imbalances caused by SIBO can throw off your overall microbiome, making you more susceptible to Celiac Disease.
And, if you do have Celiac Disease and your symptoms don’t completely resolve on a gluten-free diet, SIBO or another bacterial overgrowth could be to blame.
Inflammation can wreak havoc on all body systems, especially the gut.
Gut inflammation is behind things like food sensitivities, IBS, IBD, and other chronic gut conditions.
In Celiac Disease, where your body is mounting an attack on its own tissue, there’s going to be some inflammation present.
Having untreated Celiac Disease can result in systemic inflammation. But generally, most of the inflammation is going to be constrained to the small intestine where the actual autoimmune response is taking place.
This inflammation can lead to other gut disorders and a gut that is leaky and just doesn’t function well in general.
Leaky gut, general impaired motility, and imbalance can be a root issue behind the development of bacterial overgrowths, including SIBO.
And SIBO in itself can also cause localized and systemic inflammation. Having bacteria in the small intestine, where they’re not meant to be, can cause inflammation of the mucosal membranes in the gut.
So, the relationship between Celiac Disease and SIBO is not a one-way street. Both gut conditions can cause an increase in inflammation, which can make your gut more susceptible to developing other gut pathologies.
Malabsorption is a common theme in both Celiac Disease and SIBO.
SIBO has been shown to impair both the structure and the function of the small intestine. Which makes sense if you think about it.
There are bacteria in your small intestine, where they don’t belong. They’re competing with your own gut for food and producing gas and other metabolites when they do consume that food.
For this reason, SIBO can significantly interfere with how well you can digest and absorb nutrients. And having these unwelcome bacteria reside in your small intestine can result in damage to the lining of the gut.
This damage is similar to, but definitely less severe, the damage that occurs when someone with Celiac Disease ingests gluten.
Both SIBO and Celiac Disease can affect how well the small intestine functions. In both cases, it’s likely that the lining of the small intestine is going to be affected. And this impact on the gut lining keeps us from optimally absorbing the nutrients and calories from your food.
Again, this doesn’t mean that Celiac Disease definitely causes SIBO, or the other way around. It just means that both of these conditions can result in digestive impairment and damage to the small intestine.
And when the small intestine isn’t functioning optimally, it leaves the door open for other gut conditions to arise.
The Bottom Line on SIBO and Celiac Disease
Both SIBO and Celiac disease can elicit similar reactions and responses in the gut. This not only makes these two conditions very similar symptomatically, but it also indicates that there is a pathological connection between the two.
People who have Celiac Disease are more likely to also have SIBO than the general population. And having SIBO can likely put you at greater risk for developing Celiac Disease if you have the genes for it.
Being aware of the connection between these two conditions can help you advocate for your own health if you’re still experiencing symptoms even after initial diagnosis.
Many times, when a gluten-free diet doesn’t completely resolve symptoms in someone with Celiac Disease, SIBO is the culprit.
And while there is a connection, it’s important to work with a trained medical professional to get a definitive diagnosis.