The gluten-free diet and its products are everywhere. Is the diet fashionable, all hype, or a healthy choice? Maybe you have thought about going gluten free. Maybe you feel that you don’t have any issue with gluten at all. So what is the big deal with gluten?
Any health care provider who has a focus on digestion should be coming to the same conclusion by now. Gluten is difficult to digest, if not entirely indigestible, for a large percentage of the population. Though, up until this year, many of us have been going on the assumption that gluten is causing wide spread issues with the gut. Clinically, we see it every day. This year the scientific community has rallied around a new discovery. Gluten causes leaky gut AND gluten impacts everyone that eats it. Here’s how:
Gluten is a two protein compound that is made up of gluten and gliadin. Together, this is called ‘gluten.’ When ingested, gliadin releases a compound called zonulin that regulates the “tight junctions” that make up the intestinal barrier—a malfunction of this mechanism is what we call leaky gut syndrome.
Alessio Fasano, MD—a pioneer in gluten intolerance and celiac disease research, and the director of the Mucosal Immunology and Biology Research Center—led the team that discovered zonulin in 2000. Fasano explains that there are two major stimuli found to release zonulin in everyone. One stimulus is bacteria in the small intestine, where it should not be. It starts to sit there and steal nutrients.
The other stimulus is gluten. As mentioned earlier, one of the elements of gluten is gliadin which, when introduced to the cells that line the body and flat surfaces, releases zonulin. This occurs in everyone. When someone with celiac disease consumes gluten, the amount of zonulin is greater, and the door to the intestinal barrier stays open much longer, allowing not only gluten to pass through but toxins as well. In someone without gluten intolerance, their immune system quickly addresses the issue.
Based on the most recent research, Joseph Pizzorno, ND, (one of the founders of Bastyr) editor in chief of Integrative Medicine: A Clinician’s Journal, estimated that 66 percent of people have an unfavorable response to gluten. Twenty-three percent of people studied actually develop antibodies to grain proteins, though only three percent of the study population truly had celiac disease. Avoiding the production of zonulin and the corresponding negative responses, then, is beneficial to a large percentage of the population.
Here is his article:
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