It’s rare to find studies that examine the health effects of both H pylori infection and celiac disease. Both conditions can cause the same, or similar symptoms, including bloating, heartburn, weight loss, irritable bowels, diarrhea, headaches and nausea.
Celiac disease is a serious condition in which dietary gluten (in wheat, rye, barley) triggers an inflammatory reaction in the small intestine. H pylori causes an inflammatory reaction in the stomach, so it’s easy to see how these conditions cause similar symptoms.
It is believed that 50% of the world’s population carries H pylori. Conservative estimates suggest that 1% of the western population has celiac disease, but it’s also believed that only one in eight people are correctly diagnosed.
Celiac disease is the tip of the iceberg. Non-celiac disease gluten sensitivity is thought by some doctors, including Dr. Kenneth Fine MD, to affect up to 80% of the population! In other words, you do not have to have celiac disease to suffer from gluten intolerance or sensitivity, and gluten intolerance is far more widespread than celiac disease.
It should be noted that the very first recommendation I give to my clients, no matter what their health complaints are, is to switch to a gluten-free diet. Even when H pylori has been diagnosed, I’ve seen multiple symptoms disappear when gluten was eliminated from a client’s diet, long before H pylori has been eradicated.
For more information on my strategy, you may like to read the book The H Pylori Diet.
One of my biggest concerns is that gluten and H pylori can affect children, impacting their growth and development. An excellent study reported the resolution of iron-deficiency anemia in children with either celiac disease, H pylori or both.
According to the researchers, H pylori is one of the most widespread infections worldwide. The infection has been recognized as a cause of chronic gastritis, peptic ulcer, atrophic gastritis and stomach cancer, but it also causes iron-deficiency anemia, growth and extra-digestive diseases (i.e. diseases outside the gut)
The study analyzed the prevalence of celiac disease and H pylori in young patients with resistant iron deficiency anemia.
20 patients with iron-deficiency anemia that had not responded to iron therapy for 3 months were studied. Blood samples were taken and analyzed for celiac disease markers.
Stool antigen (HPSA) and a urea breath test (UBT) were performed on all patients to diagnose H pylori.
H pylori infection was positive in 13 out of 20 patients.
Celiac disease was diagnosed in 5 out of 20 patients.
All positive H pylori patients were treated using triple therapy. They were also given iron supplementation.
The 5 patients with celiac disease were given a gluten-free diet rich in iron.
The researchers found that in the celiac disease patients who were put on a gluten-free diet, the anemia was resolved.
The eradication of H pylori infection, along with iron therapy corrected the anemia.
European Helicobacter Study Group. XXIII International Workshop on Helicobacter and Related Bacteria in Chronic Digestive Inflammation and Gastric Cancer. Rotterdam, September 16–18, 2010. P. 376.
Dave Hompes’ Comments
Gluten intolerance and H pylori infections are serious problems in children and should not be taken lightly. Both gluten and H pylori can cause significant damage to the stomach and intestine, resulting in the inability to digest and absorb nutrients effectively.
If children can’t absorb nutrients due damaged stomach and intestinal tissue, secondary to H pylori and gluten, their development and growth can be compromised.
The medical system focuses on iron, but many nutrients can become depleted when the gut is inflamed and damaged. Calcium, zinc, magnesium, B12, amino acids, vitamins A, D, E and K should all be considered.
The scientific literature shows that people infected with H pylori can have lower levels of vitamin B12, folic acid, iron, amino acids and antioxidants. In turn, these deficiencies can lead to a multitude of symptoms, ranging from digestive problems to fatigue, attention deficit, skin complaints and stunted growth.
In my opinion, any child with the above symptoms should be tested for both celiac disease and H pylori.
My book, The H Pylori Diet teaches you how to use a gluten-free diet and our comprehensive digestive test services enable parents to identify a whole host of chronic digestive infections and gluten intolerance in their children.
In love and light,
Dave Hompes & The Hompes Method team