Gluten is a mixture of vegetable proteins and proteins of prolamins and glutelins. In wheat the prolamins part of the proteins is gliadin and the gluten part is glutelin. In other cereals you may find other kinds of prolamins and lutelins i.e. different combinations of gluten and its components. In a laic interpretation, the term gluten is considered the protein from wheat, spelled, rye and barley.
What are the problems with gluten?
The most famous form of gluten intolerance is a celiac disease, an autoimmune disease which leads to destroying the intestinal villus, due to which it decreases the absorption of the nutritive material in the small intestine which leads to lack of nutritive substances in the organism. The most common symptoms are pain in the stomach, diarrhea, losing weight, fatigue, lack of energy and anemia, and the symptoms may be other.
Another form of gluten intolerance is wheat allergy which has the common symptoms such as skin, respiratory and gastrointestinal reactions on wheat proteins. 27 potential allergens were discovered in wheat.
Except for celiac disease and wheat allergy, there is another problem which has become more and more common and we all know it under the name of non celiac gluten sensitivity which due to damages of the digestive tract leads to autoimmune diseases such as diabetes type 1, lupus, Hashimoto, psoriasis, and many others.
How Medicine Won’t Accept This Facts!
Until recently this disease didn’t have a clinical name and was put aside in medicine, despite the fact that many people had it. Although in the last couple of months there is more and more literature about non celiac gluten sensitivity, unfortunately many doctors are still not aware of it or don’t admit it if there is a diagnose for celiac disease or wheat allergy. They also say that they don’t know the cause for autoimmune diseases although more and more scientific studies bring to light the reasons for autoimmune diseases.
Probably the modern medicine is more oriented towards treating symptoms of some diseases and not on discovering the causes for their appearance. However, medicines only cover the symptoms of the disease and don’t cure their causer which is most often undiscovered. In this way the patient can’t heal entirely and it turns into a lifetime patient and regular medicine consumer. But despite the growing manufacture and consumption of medicine, people aren’t healthier. The pharmaceutical industry is one of the four most profitable industries in the world together with drugs, weapon and pornography, with the greatest money turnover which is counted in hundreds of billions dollars in a year. This is based on the logic of profit so it doesn’t suit this industry for people to turn to simple and cheep solutions for their discomforts, such as changes in the diet or additives to nutrition.
But lets get back to non celiac gluten sensitivity. Many doctors and many scientists consider that the human body can’t digest gluten. Gluten is a protein and proteins are made as long strings made from single links – amino acids. Amino acids are then absorbed in our bloodstream and they are transported where needed to build new tissues – muscles, hormones etc. The problem with gluten is that the human body doesn’t have the enzymes needed for dissolution or “tearing” these strings of gluten to simple amino acids. So when the undigested and partly digested protein gets in the bloodstream our immune system doesn’t recognize it as nutritive substance but identifies it as foreign body and puts on the alarm – an attack is activated on the foreign body and antibodies are created.
What Happens In Our Bodies?
Once the antibodies against gluten are created, the body is sensitive every time when gluten comes in our digestive tract and it comes up with an immune answer: the body recognizes it as something foreign and activates an attack on the composition. This happens every time we eat even the smallest amount of gluten and that is approximately 3 to 6 times a day if our diet is based on cereals.
In fact the immune system is designed in a way in which it protects us with the help of antibodies which destroy or neutralize antigens – famous substances which are harmful for our organism, no matter if they are toxins, bacteria or something else. However, the problem is in the following: gluten proteins are similar to our own proteins, the ones from which our tissues are made – organs, nerves, glands, skin etc. Antibodies which have the task to destroy gluten are not selective but automatically destroy even our own tissue, not recognizing which proteins are foreign and which our own. and this is a process which is called molecular mimicry and antibodies which destroy the tissues of its own organism are called autoantibodies. In that way the gluten sensitivity may raise a cascade of linked reactions which lead to autoimmune diseases not only in the digestive tract but in the whole organism.
Recent studies show that this is actually possible, that one compound from food may have such devastating effect on the body. One of the leading world scientists on the field of gluten sensitivity researches is doctor Alessio Fasano (University of Maryland Center for Celiac Research) and he discovered that gluten causes intestinal permeability because it influences the production of zonulin which is a regulator of the function of the intestinal permeability. Intestinal permeability means that the stations of the intestinal wall have wide space between them.
Intestinal wall is the barrier between the outside world (everything which we import in us) and the inside of the organism and through that barrier only nutrients and electrolytes are allowed to pass and nothing else. Big molecules of food which weren’t digested and toxins stay inside of the intestines and are thrown away with excretion. However, zonulin works on the stations on the intestinal wall in making space between them, making them not so tight as before and in this way intestinal permeability is created.
So we can say that intestinal permeability means that the intestinal barrier is permeable and that the “door” between the intestines an bloodstream are open which makes the gluten, lectin and other undigested and partly digested proteins and toxins to go into the bloodstream. Our immune system recognizes those undigested proteins as foreign bodies which alarms the immune response.
So gluten cause production on zonulin, zonulin effects the intestines to become permeable and permeable intestines lead to autoimmune diseases.