The word gluten is of Latin origin meaning glue. That could be because it is sort of like glue. It’s one of the reasons dough has an elastic consistency! Gluten is a combination of two proteins and one of those proteins causes illness in people with celiac disease. The protein is different depending on what grain the gluten comes from.
- Gliadin - Wheat
- Secalin - Rye
- Avenin - Oats
- Hordein - Barley
Gluten & The Gut
So, why is gluten bad for the gut ? Honestly gluten isn’t really good for anyone's gut but it is especially bad for people who have an autoimmune disease. Autoimmune diseases are often triggered gluten. Eating a piece of bread can cause negative symptoms and flare ups for people with autoimmune diseases. Here’s the catch, gluten can actually have a negative impact on a healthy gut just the same as it can one that isn’t as healthy it only takes longer before the effects kick in, and here’s how that works.
Gluten Triggers Inflammation: Chronic health issues eventually lead to long-term inflammation. Any long-term inflammation can trigger autoimmune diseases because it is damaging to the healthy cells in the body. Chronic inflammation can affect the intestinal wall lining making it permeable and weak which can lead to a leaky gut.
Gluten Changes The Gut’s Microbiome: The beneficial bacteria in our gut are meant to be there. Gluten negatively influences the gut’s microbiome. It can directly influence the progression of a pre-existing autoimmune disease, as well as, the development of a new autoimmune disease.
Molecular Mimicry: The key mechanism triggering autoimmunity is molecular mimicry. Here’s how it works: something that is foregin to our body such as a virus, bacteria, and/or food particle shares a similar molecular structure to a part of our body. The body creates antibodies to destroy the bad foreign particles. Antibodies to gliadin react with several of the body’s tissues which is where the molecular mimicry begins.
Gluten Triggers A Leaky Gut: Gluten directly triggers the release of zonulin which is a molecule that breaks down the tight junctions that hold our intestinal lining together. The more damage that is done the more likely holes and tears will develop allowing toxins and bacteria to flow into the bloodstream. Leaky gut triggers autoimmune diseases and autoimmune diseases can trigger a leaky gut.
To sum it all up, if you don’t have an autoimmune disease it’s safe to eat gluten but be mindful how much you eat because over time it can begin affecting you too! If you are aware that you deal with chronic inflammation limiting or eliminating gluten from your diet can be a huge help. It’s been said that you are what you eat….. Do we really want to be sluggish and weighed down like glue?