This post is the second instalment in our ‘Say No to Gluten’ series – read Part 1 here.
Why can’t we eat gluten?
Our bodies aren’t made to eat gluten. Unfortunately, when we made the leap from animals to cave men (if you believe the evolution theory of mankind) our genetics forgot to adapt to grass and other forms of gluten in our diet (or God just forgot to put that gene in when he made Adam).
Today it is estimated that 99% of the population has the genetic potential to develop antibodies against gluten.
Why shouldn’t we eat gluten?
Well it is probably easier if we just list the effects (well some of them anyway) of eating gluten…here goes:
- Wheat Germ Agglutinin (WGA – a lectin found in wheat) can irritate our gut, causing premature cell death which can lead to a leaky gut.
- WGA disrupts the mucus membrane in our gut, causing bacterial overgrowth and resulting in numerous of digestive issues (bloating, gas, nutritional deficiencies, ulcers, GERD etc.).
- Lectin ends up circulating in our body and brain, leading to leptin resistance. Leptin resistance has effects similar to insulin, whereby our hormones are unable to properly regulate our hunger signals. And when this happens it is extremely difficult to maintain a normal weight and energy balance.
- WGA can cause vitamin D stores to deplete abnormally fast, causing a vitamin D deficiency. This is a problem because a vitamin D deficiency can lead to weak bones, a weakened immune system and susceptibility to infectious diseases and bacterial attacks.
- Opioid peptides (psychoactive chemicals found in wheat) are similar to the chemicals found in psychoactive drugs like opium or morphine.
- Opioid peptides, like psychoactive drugs, can cause an addiction to wheat, compounding all of the nasty problems listed above.
- These peptides also make it difficult to remove wheat from the diet as it causes withdrawal symptoms (think headaches, mood swings, irritability, aches and pains etc.).
- Scarily, opioid peptides have been associated with Schizophrenia.
Why eating gluten when suffering from an autoimmune disease is disastrous
The main problem causing gluten protein is gliadin. This protein is similar in structure to the proteins found in the tissue of some of our organs, including the thyroid and the pancreas. In response to eating foods containing gluten, the antibodies that react against gliadin can mistakenly attack these organs (called mimicry), which can ultimately lead to hypothyroidism and type 1 diabetes.
And when we are already suffering from these autoimmune diseases, the antibodies’ attack can result in further antibody activity, increasing inflammation and autoimmune flare-ups. This exacerbates the existing symptoms and creates even more havoc in our bodies.
So how do you know if you are sensitive to gluten? Read Part 3 here.