3 Reasons You Must Give Up Gluten If You Have an Autoimmune Disease

2. Gluten Causes Leaky Gut

leaky-gut

I want to point out that our modern-day gluten is not the same gluten that your grandparents ate. In order to create ever fluffier pastries and hardier wheat, scientists developed new hybrid strains of wheat that contain entirely new forms of gluten not found in any of the original plants, and this is what makes our muffins and bagels bigger and fluffier. Scientists were also able to deaminate gluten which allows it to be dissolved into liquids and other products that didn’t previously contain gluten, like lunch meat and shampoo. These two factors mean that we are not only eating a different kind of gluten than our ancestors ate, we are eating and being exposed way more of it.

This modified and now ubiquitous protein causes problems with both your gut health and your immune system, creating a perfect storm for the development and progression of inflammatory and autoimmune disease. Even if you do not have an inflammatory or autoimmune disease, eating gluten can still be harmful to your health, as it has been linked with more than 55 diseases. The bottom line is that if you have an autoimmune disease, or any inflammatory condition, you shouldn’t be eating gluten, period. Here are three reasons why.

When you eat gluten, whether via a piece of bread, the filler in your lunch meats, or one of many hidden sources, it travels through your stomach and arrives in your small intestine, where we know from Dr. Alessio Fasano’s research that it triggers the release of zonulin. Zonulin is a chemical that signals the tight junctions of your intestinal wall to open up, creating intestinal permeability, also known as leaky gut.

You can think of your gut lining kind of like a drawbridge. Teeny tiny boats (micronutrients in food) that are meant to travel back and forth are able to go under the bridge without a problem. But, when gluten releases zonulin, it causes the drawbridge to go up, allowing bigger boats (large proteins like gluten) to cross over that aren’t meant to travel through. In the case of your gut, it’s microbes, toxins, proteins, and partially digested food particles that are passing under the drawbridge and escaping into your bloodstream.

This condition of leaky gut has been shown via Dr. Fasano’s research (and I’ve confirmed it in my own practice) to be one of the preconditions for developing an autoimmune disease. And, once you have an autoimmune disease, leaving your leaky gut untreated can cause your condition to progress and places you at higher risk of developing another autoimmune disease. So what is the link between a leaky gut and autoimmune disease?

Since all of the toxins, microbes, and food particles such as gluten now flooding your bloodstream aren’t supposed to be there, your immune system marks them as dangerous invaders and creates inflammation to get rid of them, which leads us to point number two.