Review of Article on Damage Caused by Gluten/Gliadin (wheat, etc.)
A thorough study of Dr Pizzorno’s review article from the Journal “Integrative Medicine” August 2013 is recommended for all who wish to really understand the complexity and significance of the association between gluten/gliadin and diseases of civilization (nutritional deficiencies, autoimmune issues, and cancers).
Gliadins and gliadin-like proteins stimulate a molecule called zonulin which creates changes in the enterocytes (cells lining the intestines) that results in destruction of the absorptive surface of these cells and large gaps in the junctions between the cells. This results in three major mechanisms of disease:
1. Nutritional deficiencies due to poor absorption.
2. Open gap junctions between cells allowing toxins and infections access into the body beyond the intestinal lining.
3. Activation of inflammatory and the immune system.
This zonulin mediated opening of the gap junctions of the intestinal lining was first described by Fasano and team (review article 2012 Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology). Increased permeability and inflammation can occur even in the absence of an immune response, hence the recommendation by some that you consider removing all wheat and gluten/gliadin from your diet, regardless of test results that may or may not show you to have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.
The review article (link below) states that “gliadin causes release of zonulin in 80% of the population”. Zonulin is also found in the lungs (think Asthma) and the blood brain barrier (think neurological disorders).
So what should you do? About 1/3 of the population can tolerate wheat without problems. The review quotes 15% of us will have an immune response to gluten or grains and 3% of us have celiac disease and 5% of us have autoimmune disorders. We know that breast feeding significantly reduces the chance of reacting to gluten or grains. Delaying the introduction of grains results in reduced reactivity. Probiotics reduce the reactivity to gluten and grains and the development of allergies. If you or your child suffers from any allergy, immune issues, GI issue, or neurological/developmental issues, I would recommend at least 3 months off all grains (especially the wheat, barley, rye, spelt – all gluten containing grains).