Gluten Sensitivity & Bacterial Vaginosis May Share A Connection
Veronica Feliciano guest post today’s topic on how having a sensitivity to gluten may make women susceptible to Bacterial Vaginosis infections. Here are her findings and what you can do as a patient to protect your health:
Gluten sensitivity is an autoimmune response that damages the small intestine by gluten intake. Currently, it affects 1 in 100 people and as many as 1 million people go undiagnosed. This sensitivity can cause Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, Liver disease, Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Seizures, etc. (1)
Medical literature states that a strong connection exists between gluten intolerance and progesterone and estrogen hormones. Also, the adrenal glands begin to shut down as the response to GI tract inflammation begins to rise; making the female body susceptible to diseases and hormonal imbalance (2). Since gluten is a multifaceted destructive force for the body, this post will include findings on what it can do on a cellular level within the female genitalia.
Although gluten proteins causes significant effects for the small intestine, joints, thyroid, even the heart -- little to no study has been conducted to completely assess the damage done in other mucosal areas, such as the vaginal mucosa. (3) The reason for testing this theory may be plausible because once the food enters the body, trying to understand the “damage” done is crucial and may be groundbreaking for women. Because gluten proteins can mimic yeast infection markers, the risk of being susceptible to vaginal corruption may be elevated.
According to Eric Bakker, a naturopathic doctor with over 25 years of experience has stated that there is a connection between yeast infections and gluten allergies. He noticed this common theme in many of his patients and once they corrected their food lifestyle, the symptoms were non-existent. The reasoning for this discovery is because the body can become “stressed out” and cannot distinguish between Candida (BV) and gluten proteins. He states:
“There is a protein within the cell wall of Candida Albicans (Hwp-1, also known as Hyphal Wall Protein-1) that allows Candida to attach itself to the cells of the intestine. The body’s immune system does not recognize Hwp-1 as being that much different from the intestinal cells, allowing Candida to remain in our digestive system. The configurations of the amino acids that make up Hwp-1 protein are very similar to the proteins α-gliadin and γ-gliadin found in gluten (wheat, barley, rye) products.
Over time, the yeast cells begin to change and are not as fixed as the gliadin proteins, they die, their colonies expand and they hyphenate, sending out spores. The immune system becomes challenged and mounts a response that not only includes an attack on the Hwp-1 protein, but also on the similar gliadin protein as well. Crossover allergic reactions begin to occur as the immune system becomes confused, and as the immune system becomes increasingly sensitized to the effects of gluten, leading to celiac disease being triggered in susceptible people.” (4)
This is an interesting concept as this should be further explored in research review. Bakker further explains that if we were to detox our bodies by eliminating the yeast and gluten, we could balance our body chemical composition (4).
Beware of the Culprits
In my research, it appears that most Americans are susceptible to gluten sensitivities when digesting wheat and gluten products like breads and pasta. With heighten consumption of such foods, the body is vulnerable to inflammation.
However, food intake is only one of many ways to worsen symptoms; take the following into consideration as they may exacerbate the condition, such as:
Sexual activity: The male “flora” may not be compatible with the female and it causes an imbalance for the genitals
Dietary: high levels of sugar consumption, moldy foods, acidic, and/or processed food
Hygiene: Poor hygiene maintenance
Weather contributing issues
Menopause/Underlying other vaginal diseases & infections
Other prescribed medications that cause vaginal irregularities
Body Sensitivity: Some women are more “sensitive” than others; therefore, they react to symptoms more severely (5)
Consider getting tested for allergies like gluten from your physician. These laboratory testings can provide your doctor with sufficient information on how certain allergic-inducing substances react in your body. Having this bit of information can empower you to make necessary health changes.
May this information shed some light to women who suffer with BV and inspire action so they may live a healthy flourishing life.
Green MD, Peter (2011) “Celiac Disease: “A Hidden Epidemic. Divergence of gut permeability.
Kaslish, Daniel (2011) “Gluten Sensitivity and Female Hormones” Core One Health.
A. Vojdani, T. O’Bryant and G.H. Kellermann (2008) The Immunology Of Gluten Sensitivity.
Bakker, Eric (2013 July). “What’s the Connection between Candida and Gluten Allergies?”
Nordqvist, C. (2015, June 30). "Bacterial Vaginosis: Causes, Symptoms and
Treatments." Medical News Today.