We now know that the gliadin protein of wheat and related grains (e.g., secalin in rye, hordein in barley, zein in corn) initiate a complex series of events in the lining of the intestines that increases intestinal permeability.
Detailed and elegant investigations by Dr. Alessio Fasano, while at University of Maryland and now at Harvard, have shown that gliadin initiates an increase in intestinal permeability mediated by the zonulin protein that causes disassembly of tight junctions between intestinal cells. According to Dr. Fasano, “The inappropriate production of increased amount of zonulin causes a functional loss of barrier function, with subsequent inappropriate and uncontrolled antigen trafficking instigating an innate immune response by the submucosal immune compartment. If this process continues, an adaptive immune response is mounted causing production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, including IFN-γ and TNF-α that cause further opening of the paracellular pathway to the passage of antigens, creating a vicious cycle.”
In other words, the gliadin protein of wheat opens the floodgates to antigens that trigger inflammation and abnormal autoimmune responses. Increased blood levels of zonulin have now been found in people who are obese, have type 1 and type 2 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease, asthma, coronary disease, celiac disease, as well as anyone who consumes wheat. In short, this is the key underlying reason to explain how and why wheat and grain consumption initiate an astounding list of common diseases.
But let’s consider another layer to this issue: metabolic endotoxemia. The gliadin protein via the increase in zonulin and intestinal permeability contribute to metabolic endotoxemia, but SIBO, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, makes it worse.
“The two major triggers of zonulin release that have been described so far are bacteria and gliadin.”
You can therefore predict that combining wheat/grain consumption with SIBO is an invitation to health disaster, given the heightened flood of endotoxemia. It is becoming clearer and clearer why wheat/grain consumption coupled with SIBO can generate such debilitating and health-destructive conditions as fibromyalgia, type 2 diabetics with out-of-control inflammation, coronary disease, rosacea, and neurodegenerative conditions.
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