What Dr. Tom O’Bryan Taught Me About Gluten-Related Disorders

Dr. Tom O’Bryan’s work changed my life in 2011.

I was deeply researching Celiac Disease and gluten-related disorders when I ordered his 7-hour DVD series for practitioners on “Identifying and Conquering Gluten Sensitivity Inside and Outside the Gut.

Much of that material shaped how I got better…

Not only that, but it shaped much of the Celiac Disease series I wrote that continues to save people’s lives every single day.

In honor of Dr. Tom’s free gluten summit going on right now, I wanted to share the top 3 earth-shattering facts I learned from his work that forever changed the course of this blog.

The Gluten-Free Diet Isn’t Enough

There’s no denying the fact that people with Celiac Disease or Gluten Sensitivity should avoid all gluten. Most Doctors tell them they’ll be fine if they follow a strict gluten-free diet. But how effective is the gluten-free diet for the people that need it most?

New research suggests that the small intestines of up to 60% of adults never completely heal from Celiac disease despite following a gluten-free diet. (1)

Is Leaky Gut Making You Sicker?


In one study of 241 Celiac patients – small intestine mucosal recovery 2 years after following a gluten-free diet was 34% and 5 years later was only 66%. (2)

The authors stated:

“Mucosal recovery was absent in a substantial portion of adults with CD after treatment with a GFD.”

Another study in 2009, published in The Journal of Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics, of 465 Celiac patients after 16 months on a gluten-free diet found that:

“Complete normalization of duodenal lesions is exceptionally rare in adult coeliac patients despite adherence to GFD” (3)

So in other words, many of these people followed a gluten-free diet for years and it didn’t fix their gut.

Low Vitamin D Makes Leaky Gut Worse

Research is beginning to show that vitamin D deficiency leads to a comprised mucosal barrier.

The research states, “Therefore, vitamin D deficiency may compromise the mucosal barrier, leading to increased susceptibility to mucosal damage and increased risk of IBD.” (4)

What does vitamin D have to do with leaky gut?

The tight junctions in your small intestine contain an adhesion junction around them to help regulate what gets in and what stays out. Dr. Tom describes it like a “rubber band” wrapped around the tight junctions that can get too stretched out and lose its elasticity (ability to snap back in place).

Vitamin D plays a critical role in the elasticity of those rubber bands and how well they keep the tight junctions operating normally. (5)

So if you’re deficient in vitamin D, the elastic band holding your tight junctions together doesn’t work properly… allowing foreign material to leak into your body and promoting inflammation.

Celiac Disease Starts With Leaky Gut (and Can Be Reversed)

Researcher Alessio Fasano, M.D., has been on the forefront of recent autoimmune and Celiac Disease research. In 2011, he published a paper titled “Leaky Gut and Autoimmune Diseases” introducing a new theory that suggests prevention and reversal of autoimmune disease is possible.

He presents the idea that three pre-existing conditions must all exist together in order for autoimmune diseases to develop. (6) They are:

  1. A genetic predisposition to autoimmunity (In the case of Celiac Disease that’s the HLA DQ2/DQ8 genes)
  2. An exposure to the environmental trigger (in Celiac Disease – that’s gluten)
  3. Increased Intestinal Permeability (Leaky Gut)

Fasano’s theory is part of the new evolution of research implicating leaky gut as the key element to autoimmune disease. Applying Fasano’s “Leaky Gut” theory of autoimmunity to Celiac Disease boils down to this…

People with the genetics for Celiac Disease that have a leaky gut and eat gluten will develop autoimmunity and subsequent intestinal damage. The increased intestinal permeability allows the environmental trigger (gluten) to become exposed to the body and trigger the genetic predisposition.

Combined with what we learned in my other article on this topic, it might look something like this:


Fasano’s new theory suggests that autoimmunity can be stopped and even reversed by removing the environmental/genetic trigger interaction and fixing leaky gut. This is groundbreaking in that it’s the first theory to present a pathway for autoimmune reversal

But when I say autoimmune reversal, I don’t mean, “someone with Celiac Disease can eat gluten again.” To me, autoimmune reversal means that the tissues in the body go back to the way they were before the autoimmune process “turned on” in the first place, and normal health is restored.

So for Celiacs, that means the gut tissue heals, intestinal permeability is restored, and the finger-like villi become fully functioning again.

The Bottom Line: Dr. Tom’s Gluten Summit Could Change Your Life

I’m forever grateful for the path Dr. Tom’s DVD started me on years ago and now, I’m learning even more from his Gluten Summit.

Dr. Tom gathered 29 of the world’s experts and opinion leaders on the topics of gluten-related disorders, nutrition and healthy living for a series of online interviews taking place for FREE from November 11-17, 2013.

During the gluten summit, you’ll see presentations on:

  • How Sensitivity to Gluten Can Impact Your Heart and Cardiovascular System
  • Why Creating the Healthiest Intestinal Environment Possible Can Arrest Your Vulnerability to the #3 Cause of Getting Sick and Dying
  • The Surprising Ways Gluten Sensitivity Can Affect a Child’s Health
  • How Gluten Can Affect the Brain, and How to Optimize Brain Function
  • And more…

You can register for free here and start watching live presentations the rest of this week:

–> Register for the Gluten Summit here (free)

Or if you’re like me and plan to watch these more than once, you can purchase the entire summit here.

Look forward to seeing you at the summit!

– Jordan

Note: we earn a small commission if you use the links in this article to purchase the products we mentioned. We only recommend products we would use or that we have used. Your purchase helps support this site and ongoing research.

Jordan Reasoner

About Jordan Reasoner

Jordan Reasoner is a health engineer and author. He was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2007 and almost gave up hope when a gluten-free diet didn’t work. Since then, he transformed his health using the SCD Diet and started HealthyGut.com to help others naturally heal stomach problems. You can check out his story here and find him on Google+, Facebook or Twitter.

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18 thoughts on “What Dr. Tom O’Bryan Taught Me About Gluten-Related Disorders

  1. Avatar

    M Wow, two days grain free and I feel a big change. I have dermatitis herpetformis and I could never figure out why some times I would feel itchy eating corn tortillas or rice noodles. I am diabetic so going grain free will help with that.

    What do you think about eating resistant starch in the form of raw potatoes or green plantains to repopulate gut flora?

    • Avatar

      HI Christine, thanks for sharing with us! Resistant starch can certainly help rebuild the gut flora. We recommend not to use it if you have SIBO or any other gut infections, though. Start small and see how you do with it, as it can take some time for your body to adjust.

  2. Avatar

    Hi there, I am deeply researching gluten and gluten sensitivity as I have a toddler and a baby and am terrified of the aspect of slowly poisoning them. Dr Tom O Bryan keeps mentioning the dangers of gluten in wheat, rye and barley. What about all the gluten in other foods like rice, oats, quinoa, etc are they just as toxic can we digest them? Are they ok? Any help with this would be greatly appreciated.

    • Avatar

      Hi Tara, it is a good idea to be aware of where your food is coming from, no matter what grain it is. If you can get oats from a local farmer, this would be better than from an unknown source. All foods have the potential to be toxic, with advanced technology, GMO’s etc. so we suggest to be very aware as to where it comes from.

  3. Avatar
    Joseph Menninger says:

    I have celiac and chrohn’s disease! I am also on a gluten free and lactose free diet! With the SCD lifestyle can I have sugar in my diet! Such as having lactose free and gluten free pumpkin pie! What tv dinners are good for me to get! What foods will help me?

  4. Avatar

    I want to encourage Jayden to follow SCD. My 15 year old son has done so for approx nine minutes mths following gangrenous ruptured appendix and years of gut dysbiosis and his future looks very bright. Yes, it takes time and patience, but it is potentially life changing! Good luck!

  5. Avatar

    I was wondering about getting tested and I need to start somewhere. Right? I am a 60 year old female,a farmer. I have Celiac disease with complications…..I am a diabetic, I have ICT and fibermyolgia. I am so stiff all the time. Can you help me?

    Thank You
    Barbara Smith
    Box 40
    Limerick, Sask Canada 306 263 2141

  6. Avatar

    Thanx for d information. I want to know more about d liquid diet. Can we give my child (having celiac disease) green tea, cold drinks like coca cola, real juice and fruity……plz suggest sir….

  7. Avatar

    Thank you for this information. I missed some parts of the Gluten Summit that rolled off before I had a chance to listen. Which speaker talked about The Surprising Ways Gluten Sensitivity Can Affect a Child’s Health?

  8. Avatar

    Do you guys believe everyone can heal leaky gut with the right diet and supplements ? I relise the if have dysbiosis or an infection that must be eliminate first which is why testing is important. Does age play a role as well. Seeing as I am 15 do you believe I could heal faster ?

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