What Does Leaky Gut, Vitamin D, Inflammation and Autoimmune Diseases have to do with Gluten?

Written by Changing Habits

November 10, 2010

Everything you eat except for pure clean water has an inflammatory or anti-inflammatory effect on the body.  Inflammation is caused when there is an injury or foreign hazard on or in the body.  If you eat a food that the body sees as something foreign, it will mount an immune response in order to rid itself of the offender.  

If you continue to eat the food or food like substance that causes the problem then the immune system is heightened and starts to look for that foreign particle in many parts of the body.

The basis of life consists of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen (CHON).  These make up fats, proteins and sugars and in turn make body parts.  Very often the same sequence of CHON in a food or substance or bacteria or virus is similar to a sequence in a body part.

Let me explain more fully.

The immune system maybe fighting a protein strand from something it sees as a hazard which is made up of CHON, this strand may be very much the same as a protein strand that makes up part of your brain, thyroid, heart, kidney, muscles, bone, liver, gall bladder or some other organ or structure in the body.  As long as you continue to consume the food on a regular basis the more the body will produce antibodies that then circulate through the blood attacking other similar proteins.   If you stop eating the offending food the body stops attacking itself.   Most food is very safe as we have evolved to eat the food, but there are new modifieds foods and some natural foods that are not.

The body attacking itself is called an autoimmune disease; type 1 diabetes, dementia, Hashimotos, Graves, CREST, scleroderma, mycariditis, idiopathic cardiomyopathy rhuematoid arthritis, muscle soreness, osteoporosis are some of the autoimmune diseases that plague people eating a modern diet.  It was once thought that heart disease was the biggest killer in the western world, but much of heart disease can be traced back to inflammation and autoimmunity and these have links with leptin resistance (a topic we discussed fully in the March 2012 newsletter)

Most people who eat modern food, have no reaction immediately after eating the offending food and therefore believe the food is Ok for them, but if you have a sensitivity to the food or additive it is seen as an enemy to the body thus the immune system will go into attack, much like the armed forces.  If you continue to eat the food the armed forces will stay on high alert.  When you stop eating the offending food or additive is when things calm down.  Many autoimmune diseases start at a very young age and are perpetuated by a daily dietary habit, they are also perpetuated by a body that has lost it’s intelligence as discussed in an article I wrote in January newsletter called The Bored Immune System – Fact or Fallacy.

Gluten is one protein that over the last 20 years has become a real problem.  There are good and bad glutens, rye, barley and wheat contain the glutens that cause much of the sensitivities in humans.  It would not be a problem if we ate this food on occasion, but as soon as we are weaned form breast milk the bread cruskits are administered and then before we know it the diet consists of breakfast cereal, toast, pasta, biscuits, crackers, cookies, muffins and if you have a sensitivity to these glutens then the body is on high alert 24 hours a day.  It may take years for the symptoms to show but they will appear.  If it is dementia these people are usually institutionalised and fed a diet high in gluten which just progresses the disease faster and faster.  It’s a bit like a heavy freight train, it takes a lot to get it started but when it is at full steam ahead it can run away very fast causing damage at a faster and faster rate.

Many people think of gluten sensitivity as something that affects the gastrointestinal tract as in Coeliacs disease, but gluten sensitivity is the umbrella and coeliacs is just one part of it.  For instance osteoporosis has now been documented to be a gluten sensitivity and in the medical journals they are now advocating a gluten free diet which then immediately starts to change the bone density, faster then drugs and calcium supplements.

Of course gluten is not the only food or food like substance that causes an inflammatory response, but it is one of the natural ones that keeps cropping up.  Most additives, preservatives, colours, flavours, modified milks, hydrogenated vegetable oils and other new age foods are also seen by the body as foreign and thus cause inflammation and a progression of disease.  If you go to your doctor  food is usually not something that is talked about but rather a prescription is written.  But I have to admit the tide is turning more and more health practitioners are realising that food is the one common thing that underpins all disease and therefore health.  

Why is Gluten a Problem More so now then 30 years ago?

Before every food was available to us at all times of the year and in plentiful supply we ate seasonally, we also ate real foods rather then foods that make you think its a food but is  just a bunch of additive, preservatives and flavourings.  As a result if we did eat a food that the body had a sensitivity to it would only be for a small amount of the year and then the body had time to heal and mend.  But now we might eat gluten 6 or more times a day our whole life time, and for people who have a gluten sensitivity this is a real problem.  It is believed now that between 45 and 60 percent of the population have this sensitivity.

Inflammation, Vitamin D, the immune system and a leaky gut!

For very good reason the body is equipped with most of the immune system surrounding the gastrointestinal tract as this is where most foreign particles go first when they enter the body.  The bacteria (probiotics), proteins, and the epithelial lining of the gut protect the body from e-coli, staphylococcus as well as foreign food particles such as gluten and anything the body sees as a danger.

It is a well oiled machine as long as everything is working.  One course of antibiotics destroys bowel bacteria for up to two years creating an imbalance in the system, thus breaking down the whole system of protection.  A lack of Vitamin D also is a huge problem as vitamin D is needed to open and close the epithelial lining tight junctions or kissing joints in order for the immune system, probiotics and GUT to do it’s job.  If the tight junctions were not there anything foreign will get into the body.   If vitamin D is lacking then leaky gut can be the result causing foreign particles to enter the body setting up an inflammatory response.  This in turn affects the brain and thought processes as well as leptin sensitivity exposing the body to a succession of health problems including the thyroid and hormonal (endocrine) system.

Medications (prescribed, over the counter or illegal), poor food choices and exposure to heavy metals and chemicals interfere with the body’s innate intelligence.  The more we know the more naive we realise we were about bombarding the body with drugs for every slight ailment.  Many doctors that I have been listening to realise that food should always be first, medications last.

Vitamin D, cholesterol and sunlight are some of the gate keepers of the immune system.  Yet we’ve been told to slip, slop, slap and that the sun is dangerous, we are also told that cholesterol is bad and at least 10% of the population are taking dugs to lower this important nutrient and many others are avoiding the foods that help manufacture cholesterol  in the body.  Cholesterol and sunlight in turn make vitamin D which is instrumental for immunity especially against foreign foods, allergens, sensitivities entering the GUT.   

If the tight junctions in the GUT wall are working then the body is protected and the immune system is able to work to keep you healthy.

Another very important role of Vitamin D is to help control leptin and appetite.

The more I learn the more I realise we cannot do a tit for tat in the body, because when you change one thing it sets up a cascade of many problems.

How Do You Know whether you have a Sensitivity to a Food or Gluten?

Knowing if you have a sensitivity, intolerance or allergy to a food or food like substance is half the battle, staying away from the offender is another matter.

If I was to give a blanket statement about food, I would say what I say in my book Changing Habits Changing Lives, stay away from all processed foods with additives as well as stay away from any food that has been modified such as hydrogenated vegetable oils, homeogenised milks, margarines etc.  Eat real foods and eat them seasonally as best you can.  Have a vegetable garden in your back yard and eat as close to nature as possible.

As for gluten, there are a few ways that you can find out whether you are sensitive.  Having a biopsy only shows coeliacs it doesn’t show whether the gluten sensitivity is effecting other parts of the body.  Blood tests and saliva tests are your best indicators.   I am not an expert in this so I recommend you go to www.thedr.com, click on the gluten tab and find out what tests will let you know whether you are sensitive to gluten or not.  Print it up and take it to your doctor.  If you are sensitive to gluten then it would be prudent to avoid it all the time.   

Another way to figure out without blood test, skin tests, saliva tests and biopsies is to do the Fat Loss Protocol. Phase 2 and 3 are the loss phases where you can only eat, 5 different fruits, greens and green vegetables, meat, fish and chicken, then in phase 4 is when you begin challenging your self with different foods.  In the first week I recommend the addition of more fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, eggs, even fermented dairy products.  Then in the last part of phase 4 and beyond, challenge yourself with bread, barley soup and other gluten containing foods.  The way you will know or have a good idea whether the food is good for you or not is by using the scales.  If you challenge yourself with food one day and the next day you put on 400gms plus then you may have to consider whether that food is worth eating regularly or just on occasion or not at all.  You can challenge yourself with chocolate, alcohol, breads, rice etc.  It is important to do the loss phase before you even consider doing the challenges.

Apart from the scales there is another way to know whether a food is right for you or not.  Once you have done the loss phase you will find that many aches, pains and sore muscles disappear.  If you eat a food that you are sensitive to the next morning those aches, pains and sore muscles may raise their ugly head.

For me I realise that I probably do have a sensitivity to gluten as whenever I eat a food containing it I always get a niggling low back pain or hip pain.  So I have to ask the question am I prepared to put up with it or just quit the food all together.  It is a question you all have to ask, do you want health and are you prepared to do what it takes in order to get it.  I know I am and the more I learn the more equipped I am to make the decisions that enhance my health and give me clarity of mind and energy.   For me there is no other way to live, if I don’t have my health and my clarity of mind then I can’t do what I love and that is why I write about food, nutrition and health.

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  1. Leonie

    What about oats? I know contain gluten but a different gluten I understand?

    • Jordan-Changing Habits Nutritionist

      Most oats can be contaminated with gluten Leonie, so if you need a GF substitute you could use quinoa or rice flakes instead.

  2. Julianne Cadd

    Thank you for this marvelous information! ?

  3. Jenny Hurrion

    I would love to know more about which foods are best to eat & which to avoid when it comes to an aching body, sore painful joints & stiff muscles etc
    Thank you 😊


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