Here is a blog post by Tender Foodie that includes a recent interview with Dr. Alessio Fasano and thought it was important enough to link to. I hope he doesn’t mind. What is critical here is that gluten has impacts on leaky-gut beyond celiac disease. If you have an autoimmune disease, grains are central to the problem.
How many forms of gluten reactions are there?
Dr. Fasano: There are 3 forms. Celiac Disease, and Gluten Sensitivity, and Gluten/Wheat Allergy – and there are four different types of wheat allergy that all behave differently.
What is behind all of these reactions?
Dr Fasano: Gliadin. Gliadin is one of the proteins found in gluten. When someone has a reaction, it’s because gliadin cross talks with our cells, causes confusion, and as a result, causes the small intestine to leak. Gliadin is a strange protein that our enzymes can’t break down from the amino acids (glutamine and proline) into elements small enough for us to digest. Our enzymes can only break down the gliadin into peptides. Peptides are too large to be absorbed properly through the small intestine. Our intestinal walls or gates, then, have to separate in order to let the larger peptide through. The immune system sees the peptide as an enemy and begins to attack. The difference is that in a normal person, the intestinal walls close back up, the small intestine becomes normal again, and the peptides remain in the intestinal tract and are simply excreted before the immune system notices them. In a person who reacts to gluten, the walls stay open as long as you are consuming gluten. How your body reacts (with a gluten sensitivity, wheat allergy or Celiac Disease) depends upon how long the gates stay open, the number of “enemies” let through and the number of soldiers that our immune system sends to defend our bodies. For someone with Celiac Disease, the soldiers get confused and start shooting at the intestinal walls.
That sounds like everyone is gluten intolerant in some way. Is that true? Everyone?
Dr Fasano: Yes. No one can properly digest gluten. We do not have the enzymes to break it down. It all depends upon how well our intestinal walls close after we ingest it and how our immune system reacts to it.
Leaky-gut and altered gut flora underly all autoimmune diseases. Here is a recent study that discusses the gut microbiota connection. Again, diet is central to the problem.
Gut Microbiota and Pediatric Disease — Published in Digestive Diseases, 12/12/2011
Background: Researchers have made every effort to assess the role of gut microbiota in pediatric diseases like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), celiac disease, asthma, allergy, and autism. The leading hypothesis is that an altered microbial composition is present (other than the presence of a specific pathogen) and that it could be involved in the pathogenesis or progression of such disorders.
Methods: Cultural, molecular, metabolomic, and metagenomic approaches are trying to define the pediatric gut microbiota imbalances in different diseases.
Results and Conclusion: In pediatric IBD, a marked increase in aerobes and facultative anaerobes was found, along with an increase in Enterobacteriaceae members (Escherichia coli). In both pediatric IBD and celiac disease (Th1-mediated disorders), higher bacterial cell counts were observed, jointly with a general gain of biodiversity. A preponderance of Bacteroidetes and a parallel decrease of Firmicutes was also reported in IBD, celiac disease and autism. Contrarily, dietary changes due to Western lifestyles increase Firmicutes populations and lower short-chain fatty acids production, possibly exposing ‘developed’ children to the infectious challenge (Escherichia and Shigella spp.). Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species could be protective agents for atopic diseases, while Clostridia, Enterobacteriaceae, and staphylococci can be associated with an increased risk of such Th2-mediated disorders. In the brain-gut axis view, gut microbiota could also play a role in autism.