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What Is Gluten And How Does It Affect The Body

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Wheat Problems Arent Restricted To People With Celiac Disease

How Does Gluten Affect the Gut?

The most famous problem with wheat is celiac disease, an autoimmune reaction provoked by gluten and treatable with a gluten-free diet. 30-40% of people have the genetic background to potentially develop celiac disease, but only about 1-3% of people actually do its not clear why but it may have something to do with the gut microbiome.

Most people know that celiac disease requires absolutely strict avoidance of all gluten. But a lot of people also think that if you dont have celiac disease, youre completely in the clear.

Thats not true. Recently theres been an increased amount of interest in non-celiac gluten sensitivity . Plenty of people have documented sensitivities to gluten that arent actually celiac disease . Theres also the overlapping problem of other proteins in wheat wheat germ agglutinin and amylase trypsin inhibitors are not the same thing as gluten and you can be sensitive to them regardless of how your body handles gluten.

Wheat isnt just a problem for people with celiac disease, and theres more to wheat than gluten.

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Angela Privin is proof that IBS is NOT an incurable disease or a disease at all. IBS is a body out of balance. Its an invitation for change. After solving her own IBS mystery more than a decade ago Angela trained as a health coach to help others.

Angela uses both science and intuition to help people figure out whats out of balance in their body. She works with lab tests, dietary changes, supplementation and nervous system rebalancing. Get help rebalancing your digestive system and solving your IBS mystery here.


Gluten Is Connected To Many Forms Of Autoimmune Arthritis

Can gluten cause muscle and joint pain? For genetically susceptible individuals, the intestinal damage caused by gluten in combination with an overactive immune system and chronic state of inflammation leads to celiac disease.

Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition that causes your immune system to attack your intestines, which creates even more damage and inflammation. But as I mentioned, the inflammatory effects arent limited to your gut. Which is why celiac disease is associated with many other autoimmune conditions. And several of them cause your immune system to attack your muscles and joints, which causes pain.

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People Who Avoid Gluten

Some athletes have advocated for a GFD to enhance performance and stamina. In a 2015 questionnaire-based study of 910 athletes without celiac disease, 41% reported following a GFD more than 50% of the time . Of that group, only 13% did so for the treatment of reported medical conditions, and 57% reported self-diagnosed gluten sensitivity. This group was made up of predominantly endurance sport athletes who reported gastrointestinal symptoms and fatigue that they believed were associated with gluten ingestion. Eighty-four percent of the patients following a GFD more than 50% of the time reported symptomatic improvement on the diet. Respondents indicated that their leading sources of information and guidance for a GFD were online , their trainer or coach , and other athletes . A follow-up study of 13 cyclists without celiac disease was performed by the same investigators and consisted of a randomized, double-blind, crossover trial in which participants received either a GFD or GCD for 1 week, then crossed over after a 10-day washout period. No significant differences were found between the diets when both gastrointestinal symptoms and athletic performance on timed trials were analyzed, suggesting that a nocebo effect played at least some role in results observed in the initial, larger trial.

You Could Protect Yourself From Leaky Gut Syndrome

How gluten affect your body

The gut is lined with cells whose job it is to join together to form tight junctions. These are supposed to be the very selective parts of the gut that determine what comes in and what stays out. The “gatekeepers,” if you will. They keep out pathogens, antigens and toxins, and welcome in nutrients and water.

But the gatekeepers are not infallible. If not treated properly, they develop holes that keeps them from doing their job. This allows microbes, toxins, proteins, and partially digested food particles to get through and flow freely into your bloodstream. This is what we lovingly call “Leaky Gut Syndrome.”

Because gluten produces zonulin, a protein that directly impacts leaky gut, eating gluten could cause or exacerbate leaky gut. According to a study on this syndrome, continually eating gluten will keep your junctions open and your gut leaky. Your body may mistake your own tissues for gluten and remain in a chronic state of inflammation which could lead to a host of autoimmune conditions.

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Ditch Gluten To Improve Your Brain Gut And Skin

Most people associate gluten sensitivity issues with digestive problems such as Celiac disease and irritable bowel syndrome. While gluten does have a very negative effect on the digestive system, it also inflames other regions of the body. The other regions that are often most effected are the brain, joints, and skin.

It is estimated by many researchers, including Dr Kenneth Fine, PhD, that 81% of the population has some level of gluten sensitivity. This means that the body produces antibodies to some sort of gluten derivative. This could be to the protein gliadin and its various forms or to a mechanism called molecular mimicry where the body produces antibodies to proteins that are similar to gliadin in its various forms.

Many researchers and health care practitioners believe that everyone on the planet is better off removing gluten from their diets. When individuals remove gluten they notice significant improvements in brain function, energy levels, breathing, immunity, pain levels, and skin health.

You Probably Won’t Lose Weight

Gluten-free doesn’t equal calorie-free. In fact, many gluten-free versions of foods contain more calories, fat, sugar, and sodium than their gluten-rich counterparts to make up for the change in taste and texture, Dr. Fasano says. Also, believing a gluten-free food is good for you may influence you to eat more of it. If you’re giving up gluten, focus on adding more fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and gluten-free whole grains to your diet instead of gluten-free versions of processed food products.

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You Could Have A Calmer Happier Stomach

Better digestion. Gluten-free diets are synonymous with this benefit. Many people who go gluten-free report having less abdominal pain, bloating, constipation or diarrhea. Whether you believe in gluten-free diets or not, it is scientifically proven that of all the carbohydrates, whole grains are the hardest to digest. Some cite the presence of phytic acid , enzyme inhibitors , disaccharides , and the fact that grains were not meant to be ingested.

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Wheat/Gluten and how it affects PTSD, Anxiety, Depression

Inflammation is the body’s attempt to bring more nourishment and immune activity to a site of injury in the body. It’s a healing response. The problem, however, is when inflammation persists without reason. Chronic inflammation is at the root of America’s most popular illnesses heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s and a whole host of autoimmune conditions.

According to Romero, because gluten creates inflammation in the body, when one has an allergy or sensitivity, a significant reduction in symptoms is noticed pretty quickly. These can include rashes, GI issues such as IBS, autoimmunity, and pain/fibromyalgia.

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Increased Vulnerability To Gut Autoimmunity

Items #1-4 on this list discussed how wheat makes the gut more permeable, so all kinds of stuff can get into the bloodstream even though it shouldnt be there. Included in that stuff isgluten! Specifically, gliadin, which is a component of gluten. Once its inside your bloodstream, gliadin runs into your immune system, and thats where the problems really start, in the form of molecular mimicry.

Molecular mimicry works like this: some foreign thing gets into the bloodstream. The immune system forms antibodies against it. So far, so good: thats how the immune system is supposed to work. But if that foreign thing looks enough like your own bodys tissue, then the antibodies formed to fight it might start attacking your own body as well.

Molecular mimicry may be the reason why people with celiac disease mount an attack on their own gut cells: to your immune system, gliadin looks a lot like the cells lining the gut. But its not just celiac disease! Gluten-related inflammation may also be a factor in the development of Crohns Disease, another autoimmune gut disease. In this study of patients with inflammatory bowel disease , a gluten-free diet helped a majority of people who tried it.

And gut cells arent the only cells affected by gluten-related autoimmunity

What Are The Symptoms Of Celiac Disease

Symptoms of celiac disease can be different in each person. Common symptoms are diarrhea or constipation, vomiting and weight loss, malnutrition, anemia , tiredness or fatigue, bone or joint pain, depression, stomach bloating and pain, and short stature in children.

People who suffer from irritable bowel-like stomach problems, headaches, fatigue, numbness, and depression may have gluten sensitivity.

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Is This Diet Safe

Though many health professionals suggest otherwise, its safe to follow a gluten-free diet even for people who dont necessarily need to do so.

Cutting out wheat and other gluten-containing grains or products will not cause adverse health effects as long as these products are replaced with nutritious foods.

All of the nutrients in gluten-containing grains, such as B vitamins, fiber, zinc, iron, and potassium, can easily be replaced by following a well-rounded, whole-foods-based diet consisting of vegetables, fruits, healthy fats, and nutritious protein sources.

You Might Experience Frequent Constipation

How Does Gluten Intolerance Affect the Body?

A lot of the whole-grain foods you cut out on a gluten-free diet are good sources of fiber. If you simply ditch them without compensating for the loss in other areas of your diet, your digestive system could get all out of wack which is what you were trying to avoid. By upping your intake of leafy greens and legumes, you’ll avoid this issue.

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Autoimmune Reactions In People Without Celiac Disease

Point #6 above gave a lot of reasons why celiac disease is associated with other autoimmune diseases, but its not limited to people with celiac disease. If you thought non-celiac gluten sensitivity was unrelated to autoimmune disease, you thought wrong! This study found that a lot of people with non-celiac gluten sensitivity have autoimmune markers in their blood, suggesting that the wheat exposure might be causing autoimmune issues even without celiac disease.

One interesting aspect of this is that patients with non-celiac gluten sensitivity may have a different type of autoimmune reaction, which just underlines that celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity are two different things. But the point is that both involve potentially serious autoimmune responses.

Gluten And Health Benefits

Gluten is most often associated with wheat and wheat-containing foods that are abundant in our food supply. Negative media attention on wheat and gluten has caused some people to doubt its place in a healthful diet. There is little published research to support these claims in fact published research suggests the opposite.

In a 2017 study of over 100,000 participants without celiac disease, researchers found no association between long-term dietary gluten consumption and heart disease risk. In fact, the findings also suggested that non-celiac individuals who avoid gluten may increase their risk of heart disease, due to the potential for reduced consumption of whole grains.

  • Many studies have linked whole grain consumption with improved health outcomes. For example, groups with the highest intakes of whole grains including wheat compared with groups eating the lowest amounts were found to have significantly lower rates of heart disease and stroke, development of type 2 diabetes, and deaths from all causes.

Gluten may also act as a prebiotic, feeding the good bacteria in our bodies. Arabinoxylan oligosaccharide is a prebiotic carbohydrate derived from wheat bran that has been shown to stimulate the activity of bifidobacteria in the colon. These bacteria are normally found in a healthy human gut. Changes in their amount or activity have been associated with gastrointestinal diseases including inflammatory bowel disease, colorectal cancer, and irritable bowel syndrome.

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Your Brain Doesnt Feel Pain But It Still Suffers

The brain itself does not feel pain and chronic inflammation is experienced with symptoms such as brain fog, slow mental processing, anxiety, depression, emotional disturbances, etc. Over time, a brain that is chronically inflamed leads to neurodegenerative conditions such as dementia, Alzheimers, and Parkinsons disease.

Individuals may also form specific antibodies to gluten molecules that mimic other regions of the body. One of the most common of these molecular mimicry patterns is Glutamate Decarboxylase antibodies. GAD is an enzyme that helps metabolize glutamate and it is key for energy production in major regions of the brain.

Individuals with GAD antibodies often form cerebellar ataxia where they are unable to maintain balance and have very poor coordination. GAD antibodies are also implicated in type I diabetes, adult auto-immune diabetes, Parkinsons disease, and stiff-man syndrome.

When we metabolize gluten, we produce the opiates gluteomorphin and prodynorphin as a result. These opiates have an addictive effect and can often lead to food addictions to sugar and gluten containing carbs. People often struggle to come off of these foods due to the addictions.

Where Do I Start

Against the Grain by Dr. Peter Glidden

This was my biggest question and the one that caused me the most angst. Once I got started though, it became easier and almost second nature to cook within the parameters of these new food omissions. So, for starters, lets focus on gluten first. Over the next few months, I plan to post more on food allergies and intolerances, specifically gluten and dairy, so please stay tuned.

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What Other Health Problems Can Accompany Celiac Disease

Celiac disease can leave the patient vulnerable to other health problems, including:

  • Malnutrition.
  • Osteoporosis, a disease that weakens bones and leads to fractures. This occurs because the person has trouble absorbing enough calcium and vitamin D.
  • Infertility.
  • Cancer of the intestine .

People who have celiac disease may have other autoimmune diseases, including:

Some people have non-classic celiac disease, such as when the only symptom is anemia. Non-classic celiac disease is becoming the most common form of celiac disease. Others might have asymptomatic celiac disease, which is one without any symptoms at all.

Gluten Induced Nutritional Deficiencies

Because gluten causes gut damage, digestion and nutrient absorption are commonly hindered in those with gluten sensitivity and celiac disease. Which is why nutrient deficiencies are common. And not getting an adequate supply of certain nutrients can contribute to poor joint health, weak muscles, and pain.

For starters, amino acids are the building blocks of protein. They are used to build muscles as well as collagen, which is the most abundant protein in your body. Its found in your tendons, ligaments, cartilage, bones, skin, and blood vessels among other places. So if your body isnt efficiently digesting and absorbing protein, joint and muscle-related problems are possible.

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