The Link Between Gluten Intolerance And Celiac Disease
A gluten-free diet is best for those who are gluten intolerant.

Gluten is a protein naturally found in most types of bread, made from wheat, rye, and barley. Many foods, such as pizza, pasta, and even beverages like beer, contain gluten.

Aside from the many benefits of gluten, it can lead to a number of diseases, gluten intolerance being the most notable.

Gluten intolerance is defined as a term that includes both celiac disease which affects 1-5% of the population, and gluten sensitivity or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, which affects 0.5-13% of the population.(9,10)

Celiac disease and gluten intolerance

Celiac disease(CD) is the sensitivity to consuming gluten. People with celiac disease have been reported to be at greater risk for developing autoimmune disease. In an autoimmune disease, immune system cells produce too many antibodies and start to attack healthy tissues, resulting in inflammation and damage. People with gluten intolerance experience the same symptoms as celiac disease after consuming gluten-containing foods. However, gluten intolerance doesn’t cause an immune response or damage to the intestines.

Liver disease connected to celiac disease

Studies have found a link between many diseases related to the liver and celiac disease. Liver diseases include a wide range from mild liver disease to more serious conditions such as severe liver failure. These diseases are correlated with the increase in aminotransferases (AST). In case of liver damage in medical tests monitoring your liver’s function, liver enzymes including aspartate aminotransferase and alanine aminotransferase(ALT) are higher than normal. The elevated enzymes are indicators of a problematic liver which can go back to normal after a gluten-free diet.


Jaundice is a condition in which the skin of the affected individuals turn yellow. And that’s because of the high amount of bilirubin (a blood waste product) in bloodstream plasma.

There are many causes of jaundice, including hepatitis, gallstones, and tumors. Jaundice is caused when the liver cannot remove bilirubin from the blood. People with end-stage liver disease may experience persistent or recurring jaundice.

It is not clear whether these liver diseases are caused by genetics or caused by gluten consumption. But troublesome liver elevates your risk of celiac and gluten sensitivity. A study performed in Sweden has shown that celiacs can increase the risk of developing liver disease by 2 to 6 fold.(5) And another study discovered that liver disease can increase the risk of developing gluten sensitivity by 8 fold. (6)

Autoimmune chronic hepatitis

Liver diseases such as autoimmune hepatitis and fatty liver disease have been reported in people with celiac disease. Autoimmune hepatitis is a disease that in the immune system of affected individuals attacks the liver.

Symptoms of autoimmune hepatitis include fatigue, itchy skin, nausea, jaundice, bloating, vomiting, skin tumors, cirrhosis, and dizziness.

Fatty liver disease

Although non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is mostly related to obesity and diabetes, several studies have found a link between fatty liver disease and celiac disease. In a recent one, published in June 2015 in the Journal of Hepatology, researchers concluded that people who have celiac disease are at a higher risk to develop non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. (11) The risk was at its highest around one year after developing celiac disease, but persisted for 15 years after being diagnosed with CD.

Gluten-free diet benefits

In recent decades the popularity of gluten-free diets (GFD) has increased dramatically. A gluten-free diet has been shown to relieve digestive symptoms including, bloating, fatigue, gas, and many other symptoms. It also can boost energy and help to lose weight.

People who are gluten intolerant benefit the most from a gluten-free diet. A study monitoring the liver enzymes of patients who were affected by celiac disease, revealed an improvement and normalization of liver enzymes after following a gluten-free diet for 6-12 months. (7,8)

Several other studies also found improvement of symptoms in people with severe fibrosis, cirrhosis, and chronic hepatitis after 6 months of a gluten-free diet.(1,2,3)