If you’ve been diagnosed with thrombocytopenia or idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP), gluten intolerance may be the cause of your low platelet count. In serious cases, your doctor may advise a splenectomy (removal of your spleen). Before going under the knife for this autoimmune disease, test yourself for gluten intolerance.
What gluten intolerance?
Gluten is the gluey protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. If you are gluten intolerant, you will be unable to digest foods such as pasta, bread, pie, cake, etc., prepared conventionally. This undigested protein will stick to your intestinal walls and and cause your immune system to mistake it for a foreign invader and go on the attack.
Each time you consume a food containing gluten, your immune system will continue its endless fight, eventually wrecking havoc with your digestive system and leaving you susceptible to autoimmune disease.
What are the symptoms of gluten intolerance?
Symptoms range from mild to extremely severe.
The most common symptoms are:
- Chronic abdominal pain, especially within an hour or two of eating
- Chronic diarrhea
- Gurgling intestines
- Frequent yeast infections
- Excessive flatulence
- Chronic sinusitis
- Depression and anxiety
- Brain fog and/or learning difficulties
- Characteristics of autism
How gluten intolerance can lead to low platelets
Though many conventional doctors do not believe gluten affects platelets one way or the other, studies have shown that those with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity are more likely to have a decreased platelet count.
This food intolerance can also trigger a condition called leaky gut syndrome. In you have leaky gut syndrome, the lining of your gut is more porous than it’s supposed to be, which allows undigested food particles, bacteria, yeast, toxins, and other “waste” products to leak into your bloodstream.
This can increase your vulnerability to a variety of autoimmune diseases, including ITP.
What are the options?
If the symptoms you’ve read above sound familiar, try a gluten elimination diet to see if an intolerance to this protein is what’s causing your discomfort and low platelet count. Even if the only symptom you have is depleted platelets, trying the elimination diet may prove to be the answer you need
For one month, eliminate all sources of gluten from your diet. Organic meat, poultry, and wild-caught fish are naturally gluten free. As are all fresh fruits and vegetables. In the past five years, there has been a large rise in the availability of gluten-free products including gluten-free bread, pasta, snacks, condiments, and much more.
While you’re on the diet, be sure these foods have “gluten free” on the label.
After the month is up, reintroduce gluten back into your diet. For example, eat some whole wheat toast and Cream of Wheat cereal together. This way, you will get enough of the protein into your system to accurately test for a reaction.
If symptoms return, completely remove gluten from your diet and consult with a nutritionist or naturopathic physician who can further guide you in following a gluten-free lifestyle.
Also, continue to have your blood tested regularly. Your platelet counts may not go up right away but, over time, you and your doctor should see an improvement.
Do some more research on gluten-free living and autoimmune disease. If nothing else comes of it, substituting highly-processed foods with more nutrient-dense food will strengthen and balance your immune system.
Note: Not every product with a gluten-free label is healthy for you. There’s still plenty of junk in those foods too. For optimum health, make whole and minimally-processed foods the bulk of your diet.