Stefano Guandalini, MD, founder and medical director of the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center, has studied celiac disease for over 40 years. In a recent interview, 2/5/2014, he and other scientists who attended a celiac disease conference were asked about the seemingly sudden rise in celiac disease. The theories they suggested are components of the Hygiene Hypothesis:
Uber Clean Society:
Because of the obsessive cleanliness of our current society we may not be getting enough bacteria in the gut to combat autoimmune and allergic diseases. During the critical times, from birth to the first 18 months of life, babies may not be exposed to enough dirt to fully develop the gut immune systems needed to avoid these diseases.
As a result of excessive “cleanliness” we have eliminated many infectious conditions, however, we may also be preventing our guts from developing properly to avoid autoimmune and allergic diseases. In comparison, developing countries with lesser degrees of extreme cleanliness, autoimmune diseases are almost non-existent. This may be due to the unavailability of hygiene resources or the inability to afford these resources. This is also supported by evidence citing an increased prevalence of autoimmune disease when a country begins to develop, redirecting economic resources toward hygienic practices and using sterilization techniques.
Another possible culprit of an underdeveloped gut immune system, is the increase in “Caesarian” deliveries. During Caesarian delivery, the baby is removed via an abdominal incision and never receives the essential bacteria that is transferred from the mother during a vaginal delivery.
Increased use of antibiotics that wipe out both the good and bad bacteria in the gut, may contribute to the rise of CD.
All of these factors may throw off the gut’s ability to fight off autoimmune diseases, and, to effectively digest the “gluten” protein. Hopefully, future research will help us define what we can do to better develop our digestive systems and prevent autoimmune disorders.
Source: Science Life, University of Chicago Medical Center