Gluten is a protein found in most grains eaten in America and all over Europe.
For most people gluten intake will come from wheat products, but as well from barley, triticale, rye, oats, spelt. Oats are supposed by nature to be gluten free, however, they get cross-contaminated by being carried in trucks that also carry wheat. You should also know that American strands of wheat have the highest content of gluten in the World.
Gluten has been isolated as a risk factor is so many diseases, that is almost impossible to count them all.
Gluten is one of the most complex proteins consumed by humans - making it extremely difficult to absorb. This is demonstarted with infant digestions: babies first introduced to solid foods are not given wheat. They are started on a thin porridge of rice because their tiny digestive tract can process it easier.
After rapid digestion in the stomach, gluten coats the pancreas and villi, (finger-like protrusions which provide most of the surface area for nutrient absorption) in the small intestine with a layer of insoluble glue. This interferes with the extretion of insulin from the pancreas and the absorption of nutrients into the muscles etc. from the small intestine. This could potentially cause diabetes.
Everyone, and especially people with gluten intolerance or celiac disease, are unable to digest gluten. In fact, in celiac this protein actually attacks the lining of the small intestine causing damage that flattens the tiny villi, and consequently has serious health implications.
gluten causes inflammation in the body
This is true in at least 80% of the population, and studies indicate that up to 30% of the rest of us will produce antibodies against gluten proteins when gluten is ingested. The production of antibodies is a good sign – it’s our bodies’ method of fighting off pathogens – but is also a clear indication that the presence of gluten is not desired by the body. To compound matters, one of the proteins in gluten – gliadin – can be similar in structure to tissue proteins in such organs as the pancreas and thyroid. When antibodies against gliadin are produced, there’s a risk that they will attack these organs, potentially leading to autoimmune diseases.
inflammation causes illness & aging
Gluten’s inflammatory nature is known to destroy intestinal cells, which can then become oxidized. This effect creates a “leaky gut”, which enables toxic compounds to enter the bloodstream, further increasing the risk of autoimmune disease, and reducing the gut’s ability to properly absorb nutrients. Inflammation is now known to be at the root of many illnesses – for example, antibodies against gluten have also been shown to damage heart tissues. One of the best ways of reducing inflammation in the body is by reducing the intake of inflammation-promoting substances – just one of the good reasons to avoid gluten.
gluten intake is associated with cancer
The intake of higher-carbohydrate diets – particularly those containing gluten - is strongly associated with cancer development and progression. German researchers from the University Hospital of Würzburg recently published a large review on the benefits of a low-carb diet for cancer patients, in which they say:
In the small intestine, gluten triggers the release of zonulin, a protein that regulates the tight junctions between epithelial cells and therefore intestinal, but also blood-brain barrier function. Recent evidence suggests that over-stimulation of zonulin in susceptible individuals could dysregulate intercellular communication promoting tumorigenesis at specific organ sites.
celiac disease concern
Approximately 1 percent of the population suffers Celiac Disease, a condition that triggers diarrhea, abdominal pain and bloating when gluten is consumed. This immune disorder is diagnosed through a blood test and intestinal biopsy. However, there are likely many more Americans with Celiac's because as many as 95 percent of people who have it do not know it, according to an article from U.S. News and World Report. Also, there is often a delay in diagnosing or a misdiagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome, unrelated anemia or stress. Since 2003, the number of diagnosed cases of Celiac Disease has risen from 40,000 to 110,000, with an estimated 3 million cases having gone undiagnosed, according to Alessio Fasano, medical director of the University of Maryland Center for Celiac Research.
Symptoms of Celiac Disease include frequent diarrhea, constipation, boating, unintended weight loss, anemia, unexplained fatigue, headaches, mouth ulcers, bone or joint pain and, in children, a failure to grow.
Even if someone doesn't have Celiac Disease, they might have gluten intolerance or sensitivity. Approximately 15 percent of people could test negative for Celiac Disease, but will feel better when they eliminate gluten, according to U.S. News and World Report. Approximately 15 to 25 percent of consumers buy gluten-free products, says USA Today, which is much higher than the amount of people recommended by their doctors to go gluten-free. However, as with weight loss, these feelings of health and well-being might be because they are eating more fruits and vegetables and fewer processed foods, which are more likely to contain gluten, according to Health.com.
gluten affects the nervous system
After the digestive tract, gluten sensitivity affects the nervous system more than any other system in the body. The effect occurs from inflammation caused by gluten as well as malabsorption.
The immune system of a gluten sensitive individual reacts negatively to the protein gliadin. Due to the structural similarity between gliadin and other bodily proteins, a cross reaction can occur. In this cross reaction the immune system “confuses” one’s own body’s proteins with those of gliadin. This is called cellular mimicry and the result is inflammation due to the body attacking its own tissues.
When such inflammation occurs in the brain and nervous system, a variety of symptoms can occur, including depression. This condition is sometimes called “the brain on fire”.
In a fascinating study examining blood flow to the brain, 15 patients with untreated celiac disease were compared to 15 celiac patients maintaining a gluten-free diet for one year. The findings were these: in the untreated group, 73% had abnormalities in brain circulation by testing while only 7% in the gluten-free group showed any abnormalities. The patients with the brain circulation problems were frequently suffering from anxiety and depression as well.
Interestingly it’s been noted that patients with symptoms involving the nervous system suffer from digestive problems only 13% of the time. This is significant because mainstream medicine equates gluten sensitivity almost exclusively with celiac disease and digestive complaints. So do you think a depressed teen is going to be evaluated for gluten sensitivity especially when he has no digestive complaints?
Absolutely not. But it’s absolutely wrong that he isn’t screened.
There is strong evidence to support the association between gluten and depression. While that may only be addressing 40% of the teens afflicted, it’s definitely a good start.
the glutamate in gluten kills brain cells
Glutamate is an excitotoxin, which means it overexcites brain cells, which either damages or kills them. Its docking station in the brain is called the NMDA (N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor). Excessive excitation of this receptor is linked to many psychiatric disorders.
What Can You Do?
Eliminate wheat completely from your diet. If you can, also eliminate barley, rye, triticale, bulgur, kamut and oats (you can buy gluten free oats here).
If you do eat wheat, you may want to look into Gluten Megazymes by Megafood which will help you digest gluten.
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