What does Gluten do ?

Gluten is a protein found in the grains of wheat, rye and barley. It makes the dough sticky (it helps glue the bread and cakes together so they don’t crumble). Unfortunately, the gluten molecule does not get digested easily. This allows it to cause an immune reaction in susceptible people.

For most people, gluten does not cause any obvious problems (although it might still be causing some trouble). However, in about one-in-ten (10%) of the population, gluten does cause a large range of symptoms. In Australia already 10% of the population have adopted a gluten free lifestyle.

This is now called “the gluten syndrome, or gluten-related-disorders“. In my experience, any chronic ill-health problem should be checked to see if you have a gluten-sensitivity. People getting sick from gluten is a huge health problem.

When gluten damages the gut it is called celiac (coeliac) disease. But most people with gluten illnesses do not have celiac disease.Gluten is bad for you if it is causing you to have poor health. Some people have symptoms that are debilitating. If you are experiencing ongoing health problems, then get a blood test to check out gluten.

Gluten -  how does it make you sick?

The toxic component of the gluten is a protein called gliadin.

Your immune system is constantly defending your body against attack from bugs and from allergens. Unfortunately, gluten/gliadin is a strong allergen.  Thus, your body attacks gliadin by using a weapon called “antibodies”. These antibodies can repel gliadin. However, the outcome of this immune fight (against gliadin) is the production of antibodies that are specifically targeted towards gliadin: these are called “anti-gliadin antibodies”, or shortened to “gliadin antibodies”. Gluten is also implicated in triggering various auto-immune diseases.


Gluten and IBS?

You may be a Celiac/Coeliac sufferer, or you may simply be intolerant of Gluten, whichever the case, Gluten and IBS rarely mix well.

Gluten is also cut out the Low FODMAP diet which is proving to be one of the best tools in the fight against IBS.  

So what is so bad about Gluten ? Why do so many people around the world seem to have such a strong reaction, while for millions around the world it is part of the staple diet.

The following looks at what gluten is, and why it can cause so many problems in our digestive systems.

The Gliadin Effect

Gliadin is a protein found within wheat gluten. It is, from a cold scientific viewpoint, a fascinating issue, a protean protein capable of incredibly varied biologic effects in humans. Among the things we know about gliadin:

–Gliadin is the most abundant protein in wheat, contained within gluten polymers.

–Gliadin of 2012 is different from the gliadin of, say, 1960, by several amino acids, part of the genetic transformation of wheat introduced to increase yield-per-acre.

–Gliadin is degraded to a collection of polypeptides called exorphins in the gastrointestinal tract. Exorphins cross the blood-brain barrier and bind to opiate-receptors to induce appetite, as well as behavioral changes, such as behavioral outbursts and inattention in children with ADHD and autism, hearing voices and social detachment in schizophrenics, and the mania of bipolar illness.

–People who consume gliadin consume 400 calories more per day; people who remove gliadin reduce calorie intake by 400 calories per day.

Incidentally, antibodies to gliadin are capable of binding to nervous system tissue and may contribute to immune-mediate neurological impairment, such as cerebellar ataxia and gluten encephalopathy. Gliadin, particular the omega fraction, is also responsible for allergic responses, including Bakers’ asthma and the odd wheat-dependent, exercise-induced analyphylaxis (WDEIA).)

The high-yield, semi-dwarf strains of wheat, invented in the 1960s and 1970s, was introduced to North American farmers in the late 1970s, who adopted it over the next decade. By 1985, virtually all wheat farmers were growing this high-yield strain. (Can you blame them? Per-acre yield increased about 10-fold, provided sufficient nitrate fertilizer was applied.)


If you fear that you may have celiac (coeliac) disease please follow the links to wonderful organisation who can help: