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Over the past few years, people with sensitivities toward gluten have also developed certain diseases such as celiac disease. Consuming a great deal of gluten can have a pretty negative impact on your overall health.

What is Gluten?

Gluten is a "sticky" protein found in many grain products such as wheat, rye, barley and many other grains. It's called "sticky" because it literally hold nutrients together within the plant. This sticky ability is why it is used in processed foods as a filler and a binder. It is a two part protein that consists of peptides gliadin and glutenin.

Why Are People Turning Away From Gluten?

One of the biggest reasons we are turning away from gluten is that we are not eating the wheat that our parents grew up on. In order to produce a bug-resistant, fast growing and drought resistant product, we have to hybridized the grain. ( Hybridized = to breed or cause the production of a hybrid.) Approximately 5% of the protein found in hybridized wheat is considered a "new form of protein" and this is where the problem lies. This new form of protein leads to increased inflammation within your system, causes an intolerance to gluten and can bring about systematic problems.

How Is Wheat Now, Different Then It Was Years Ago?

Wheat has been de-amidated or in other words, amino groups have been removed from the product. This is done in order to allow the wheat to become water soluble and therefore able to be mixed into just about every single packaged food. Unfortunately, this process has shown to create a large immune response in many people. In this fast-paced world that we live in, we are surrounded with fast foods available at a snap and we are eating a great deal more wheat then our ancestors ever did.

So, What Goes On In Our Bodies When We Eat Gluten?

While you are consuming that "whole-grain" pasta that every health nut under sun claims is good for you, or that 12-grain sandwich, it's eventually is going to enter your intestines. (TTG) tissue transglutaminase is an enzyme that breaks down the gluten into building blocks, gliadin and glutenin.

So, what does all of that mean? Let's break it down so it's more clearly understood. Everything you intake must make its way through your digestive system, your lymphoid tissue or GALT which is the term used for the immune system within your gut! Your system literally reviews everything to make sure there are no harmful substances trying to make their way through.

Now, if you do not have any issues with gluten, the entire process moves along very smoothly and there are no problems. Unfortunately, if you have a sensitivity to gluten , your system identifies "gliadin" as a dangerous substance and starts producing antibodies to attack it. Gliadin is a prolamin derived from the gluten of grain. Prolamin is a simple class of proteins. Those with Celiac’s Disease, these antibodies don't just attack the gliadin, they also go after the TTG which originally broke down the gluten.

Symptoms Within the Digestive System Can Cause Serious Conflicts:

The enzyme, TTG, has numerous jobs and one of the most important duties is pulling together the microvilli, or little finger-like projections on the surface of the epithelial cell within our gut.

Your body collects nutrients by absorbing them through the walls of your intestines. The more surface space there is, the more they can absorb. These Microvilli exist in your intestines to increase the surface area and absorb nutrients. When these fingers become blunt, this is an indication of celiac disease.

When the production of antibodies are cut back within your body to defend against gliadin, these microvilli will erode and decrease your ability to absorb needed nutrients and can cause the walls of your intestines to become leaky.

When this leakage takes place, you can develop digestive symptoms such as bloating, constipation, weight loss, diarrhea, malnutrition and fat malabsorption. Malnutrition can be in the form of lack of iron, anemia, low vitamin D or even osteoporosis.

How Does Gluten Cause a Leaky Gut?

In order to absorb nutrients, our system must be accessible to small molecules. Regulating our intestinal attainability is one of the leading functions of the cells that line the intestinal walls.

That said, people who are sensitive to gluten can have their gut cells release "zonulin". Zonulin is a protein that will break the tight junctions of your gut apart. Once this happens, you will experience a "leaky gut". When this occurs toxins, microbes and undigested foods particles escape your intestines and travel throughout your body via your blood stream. Adding to that, this also allows antibodies to escape as well and these antibodies were formed to originally fight off gliadin.

The Link Between Gluten, Inflammation and Auto-immune Disease:

Antibodies often confuse more than TTG for gliadin and attack other organs and systems. From your skin to your thyroid or your brain can be at high risk. This is precisely why gluten sensitivity is often associated with auto-immune conditions and the onslaught of Celiac Disease. Once this has manifested, this can cause a second auto-immune disease as well.

What To Do If You Are or Suspect You Are Gluten Intolerant?

One of the best tests you can run is to remove any form of gluten from your diet for approximately 3 to 4 weeks before reintroducing it back into your diet. You need to run this test for a good amount of time because gluten is a very large protein and takes a long time to get it out of your system. If you can keep out of your diet for a longer time frame, all the better.

Once you introduce gluten back into your diet, should you feel significantly worse then you were before chances are you have a low tolerance to gluten. You may also request that your doctor run a series of tests:

  • IgA anti-gliadin antibodies
  • IgA anti-endomysial antibodies
  • IgA anti-gliadin antibodies
  • Total IgA antibodies
  • Tissue Transglutaminase antibodies
  • Genetic Testing
  • Intestinal Biopsy

Tests are not always accurate because gluten is made up of hundreds of peptides and gliadin that are broken down into 12 different sub fractions. Quite honestly, your body knows more than any test can possibly show. If you rid of gluten from your body and you feel great and then reintroduce it back into your system and you feel terrible, it's time to unload gluten permanently!

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How To Treat Celiac Disease and Gluten Sensitivity:

You should eliminate gluten by 100% from your diet. Even low amounts of gluten from supplements, medications, cross-contamination can cause serious immune reactions. The mentality that gluten is only eaten when out at restaurants is a poor excuse. An article published in 2001 stated that those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, eating gluten just once a month increases the risk of death by 600%.

For some people, just removing gluten from their diets 100% isn't enough. The damage that has been caused must mend. Even those who only show signs of bloating or headaches, these effects can last up to six months and in some cases longer.

Because the damage has already been done, the gut lining must totally heal. Because of years of ignoring gluten sensitivity, other infections could arise such as parasites, bacterial overgrowth and bacterial imbalances, to name a few. In some cases some folks might need to go completely "grain-free" due to damages that have incurred.

Keep in mind, you are not losing any needed nutrients by cutting out gluten. You could very well be saving your own life or the life of someone you love. The wheat products we consume in this day and age are not what our ancestors consumed, nor did they consume as much as we have in recent years.