Gluten 101

What is gluten?
You hear that word “gluten” more and more, yet many only have a vague idea of what it actually is.  Gluten is a protein found in the seeds or grains of certain grasses such as wheat, rye, and barley.  So, you would find it in anything made with those grains or those flours.  It has been becoming more and more of a problem due to people tinkering with it to make it “better”, especially the wheat.  The wheat we eat now is very different even from the wheat we ate in the 60’s.  I heard a long time ago, I don’t remember where, that the wheat eaten in biblical times had about 3% gluten, whereas now it has been bred to contain about 50% gluten.  And this is the component of wheat that is causing the trouble.

What foods contain gluten?
To say anything made with wheat, rye, barley, and those flours would be inadequate. However, let’s start with that; things like cake, cookies, pasta, bagels, pizza, and bread have gluten. I wish we could stop there, but other grains such a spelt, kamut, and triticale also contain gluten.  What is even worse are the unsuspected sources like beer, caramel color, bleu cheese, seasoning packets, soy sauce, and Pringles.

Why is gluten problematic for some people?
Gluten is one of the most highly allergenic foods. It can cause a leaky gut; normally the intestines have tight junctions, which only allow small digested food particles into the blood stream; when it becomes leaky larger particles, such as food proteins, can enter.  This causes the immune system alarm.
Gluten is also high in lectins; lectins being a phytochemical, considered to be an anti-nutruient, that can have a toxic, inflammatory effect.

Symptoms of celiac disease and gluten sensitivity:
It can cause a myriad of symptoms such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), other abdominal pain, colitis, gastrointestinal esophageal reflux (GERD) disease, diarrhea or constipation, nutrient deficiencies, headaches, brain fog, depression, problems with balance and coordination, anxiety, chronic fatigue, learning disabilities, rashes, joint pain, osteoporosis.

What are some differences and similarities between gluten sensitivity/intolerance and celiac disease?
While both causes inflammation, only celiac disease causes microvilli destruction in the lining of the small intestine.

Both are considered to be autoimmune diseases by some experts. Not all experts believe that two different diseases; many experts believe that celiac disease is a manifestation of gluten sensitivity, like a subset, and I tend to agree with this view.

Both seem to be involved with other autoimmune disease, such as low thyroid Hashimoto’s disease. Both exacerbate other autoimmune diseases.

For more info check out a previous blog post I wrote:







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