What is Gluten?
Gluten is the substance in wheat, spelt, barley and rye that gives breads containing it the capacity to rise and a chewy stretchy texture. This substance is comprised of several complex proteins, to which many people are allergic or sensitive.
Celiac disease is the most severe case of gluten sensitivity. In this instance these proteins cause damage to the small intestine resulting in inflammation, pain and malabsorption. Despite the severity of the symptoms many suffers remain undiagnosed.
Unexplained anaemia can be a red flag that a person has celiac disease. People with gluten sensitivity may have no intestinal symptoms but suffer nervous and immune problems.
The inflammation to the gut caused by the intestinal immunity through gluten allergy results in leaky gut. This facilitates the passage of antigens into the bloodstream. The body’s immune system responds to these foreign bodies and the result is systemic inflammation. This can create symptoms such as depression, Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, thyroid problems, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and a plethora of other problems.
Even in the absence of celiac disease, subtle sensitivity to gluten causes the tight junctions of the gut to enlarge causing leaky gut. There is a direct correlation between leaky gut and leakage across the blood brain barrier. This allows foreign substances into the brain causing a cascade of neurological problems.
Gluten is a neurotoxin
Dr David Perlmutter, in his book The Grain Brain, states that gluten sensitivity in the population may be as high as 30%. He also states that evidence suggests that the brain and nervous system are the prime site for gluten damage. The neurotoxic effects of gluten can cause headaches, affect mood, memory, and concentration. Conventional coeliac testing will often show a negative result to components of wheat and gluten, which are responsible for inflammatory conditions, often manifesting neurologically, in the skin, and as autoimmune presentations.
If you’re keen to investigate your digestion, gluten relationship, and therapeutic approaches to support vitality and balance in your body, book in with one of our highly experienced naturopaths at Mullum Herbals – in person, phone, and skype consultations available.
Writer – Val Iwaszko Mullum Herbals