Think Twice Before You Eat Gluten

Think Twice Before You Eat Gluten

Dr Cesar Lara

You just don’t feel good. You’re always tired and fatigued, have ongoing skin issues, get frequent headaches, or struggle with depression — and so many other commonly experienced symptoms. You have questioned if gluten is the culprit, but because you don’t experience gastrointestinal upset, you may just put the thought to the side. All of the symptoms mentioned — and many others — can indicate that you have a significant degree of gluten intolerance.

Gluten can be dangerous for some people. Because of the host of adverse health effects of gluten, such as autoimmune conditions, irritable bowel syndrome, fatigue, and brain fog, many people are actively trying to eliminate gluten from their diets. Avoiding gluten can be extremely difficult as it is in many foods in which you wouldn't expect.

What Is Gluten?

Gluten, a protein composite, is found in many grains such as wheat, barley, rye, semolina, spelt, and kamut. It is made up of the proteins glutenin and gliadin.

Gluten — from Latin, “glue” — gives dough its sticky texture and bread its fluffy, airy texture. It's also in many processed foods as a stabilizing agent, such as mayonnaise and salad dressing. You can also find gluten in beauty products, supplements, and medications.

History and Truth About Gluten

The prevalence of gluten intolerance has significantly increased over the last five decades. Gluten intolerance(1) is an umbrella term that refers to three major types of gluten-related disorders: autoimmune celiac disease, an allergy to wheat, and non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

The term non-celiac gluten sensitivity(2) encompasses people who — in the absence of celiac disease and wheat allergy — experience symptom relief from removing gluten from the diet. Non-celiac gluten sensitivity involves both non-digestive and intestinal reactions to gluten that are not allergic or autoimmune in nature.

While gluten sensitivity is difficult to diagnose, some studies suggest that up to 30 percent of the population suffer from gluten sensitivity. As per Dr. Stephan Wangen, author of Healthier Without Wheat, nearly 1/3 of people without the genetic marker for celiac have anti-gluten antibodies in their systems.

The wheat we're eating now is no longer the wheat our ancestors ate. We have hybridized the grain to have the faster-growing, bug- and drought-resistant wheat that's grown today.

It's estimated that 5 percent of the "new proteins"(3) in the hybridized wheat were not found in original wheat plants. The consumption of these proteins leads to widespread gluten intolerance, inflammation, and increased rates of celiac.

Today’s wheat is processed in a way that allows it to be water soluble, which makes it capable of being mixed into practically every kind of packaged food. This deamidation process(4) has been shown to produce a significant immune response in many people. And in this modern, fast-paced society, processed foods are consumed more than ever before.

What Happens When You Eat Gluten?

No matter if you're eating an organic 12-grain bread or a sugary doughnut, the effects of gluten in your gut are the same. When the gluten reaches the intestines, tissue transglutaminase (tTG), an enzyme produced in the intestinal wall, breaks down the gluten into its proteins glutenin and gliadin.

As glutenin and gliadin pass through the digestive system, the gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT), the immune system in your gut, scans them for potentially harmful substances — as it does for everything that makes its way through the digestive system.

The proteins are absorbed in people with have no issues with gluten; however, in those with gluten sensitivity, the GALT sees gliadin as a harmful substance and produces antibodies to attack it. In a person with celiac, these antibodies will also attack the tTG, which is what initially broke down the gluten.

The tTG enzyme has numerous jobs, one of which is holding together the microvilli in the gut. Your microvilli, hairy fingerlike projections, line your intestines to increase the surface area and absorb nutrients. The more surface area there is in your gut, the more nutrients you can absorb.

Furthermore, when antibodies attack your tTG, these microvilli can atrophy and erode leaving you with an impaired ability to absorb nutrients and allowing the walls of your gut to become leaky — this is known as intestinal permeability or leaky gut, which is a dangerous and life limiting inflammatory condition. The blunting of the microvilli is the hallmark of celiac disease(5).

This process can manifest itself in an array of symptoms, including constipation, diarrhea, bloating, weight loss, malnutrition, such as low vitamin D, iron deficiency or anemia, or even osteoporosis. A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that people with gluten sensitivity had a higher risk of death. The results were shocking: while people with full-blown celiac had a 39% increased risk of death, that number increased to 72% for people with gluten-triggered inflammation!

Clearing Gluten From Your Life

Clearing from your life can lead to a significant improvement in your wellbeing.

People with celiac disease must stay gluten-free for life. Even a minuscule amount of gluten can keep the immune system in overdrive and prevent the intestines from healing.

Those with non-celiac gluten sensitivity or wheat sensitivity also follow a gluten-free diet. Honoring a gluten-free diet prevents the manifestation of unwanted symptoms just as it does in celiac disease.  Moreover, there are other conditions in which some people may benefit from removing gluten, including thyroid disease, arthritis, fibromyalgia, weight loss, and even type 1 diabetes.

In My Practice

In my practice, where we help our patients regain their health by releasing their excess weight, our nutrition plan is gluten-free. While patients successfully release those unwanted pounds and inches, they will typically express how much better they feel, with less aches and pains, more energy, less foggy brain, making their journey towards their healthy weight much more comfortable, as they not only see results but feel drastically better.

Over half of our patients will be able to stop their anti-acid and anti-inflammatory medications within the first 3-4 weeks. If you think any of these issues resonate with you, give a trial to eating gluten-free, after all most gluten products are calorie rich and nutrient poor as they raise your blood sugar, leading to insulin resistance, which leads to storing fat, while making you hungry for more!

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