Could gluten cause problems for everybody?
We used to believe that if you did not have celiac disease, you would not have any issues with gluten. This does not seem to be true since there are different degrees of gluten intolerance. People who have celiac disease just have a very severe reaction to it.
A gastroenterologist and researcher at Harvard University has published a very interesting article on this subject(Fasano,A,2011).
The intestinal mucosa act as a barrier to protect us from pathogens and other particles that are not supposed to be absorbed into the blood. This is called intestinal permeability. Dr. Fasano explains that gliadin (a protein found in gluten) trigger IL-8 (an inflammatory cytokine) leading to recruitment of neutrophils. Neutrophils are a type of white blood cell which are activated as a part of the body’s defense mechanism.
Gliadin increases intestinal permeability through the release of a substance called zonulin. When the intestinal permeability increases we may absorb both pathogens (bacterias) and larger proteins not intended to be absorbed, triggering an inflammatory response.
Gliadin also interacts with macrophages, another type of white blood cell. This establishes an inflammatory environment in the intestinal mucosa. Depending on genetic predisposition, we will then experience a more or less severe reaction. This may, for example, trigger an autoimmune response in someone who is predisposed to that.
In other words, it looks like gluten is triggering an inflammatory response in everybody, but because we don’t have exactly the same genes, we will not have exactly the same reaction.
Gluten is found in common grains, but gluten free grains are not without problems either because they elevate the blood glucose high.
There are; however, solutions to this which you will find in the “Learn to Eat“ program.