For many, gluten can cause a host of health issues including, leaky gut, chronic inflammation, changes in the healthy bacteria of the GI tract, and autoimmune disease. However; gluten is really only one of many problems with consuming a grain based diet. There are many other chemicals in grain that can contribute to poor health and disease.
Gluten IS a Problem
You see the articles and hear the news stories – Gluten Sensitivity Doesn’t Exist. Yet millions of people are gravitating toward the diet and feeling better. As a matter of fact, the gluten free diet is the biggest diet trend ever. It dwarfs Atkins, South Beach, Paleo, SCD, FODMAP, Sugar Free, Fat Free… But it doesn’t exist right?
I find it hard to believe that people would voluntarily restrict their diets for a trend if their was not a dramatic improvement in their health. I find it hard to believe that people would avoid classic favorites like pizza and hamburgers if doing so didn’t lead to improvements in diseases like migraine headache, IBS, depression, chronic fatigue, neuropathy…
Gluten is NOT the Only Problem & Celiac is Not the Only Gluten Related Disease
Even though research overwhelming proves that gluten sensitivity exists, there are other non gluten components found in grains that can cause autoimmune problems. Additionally, there are other foods, chemicals, and medications that have been shown to cause similar types of inflammatory damage. These things are rarely discussed and are a proverbial “no man’s land” when it comes to getting a proper diagnosis. Because of this, the people who test negative for celiac disease as well as those who don’t have symptoms of classic celiac disease are left without a diagnosis. They are left without validity to why they are sick when they are exposed to grains or any of the other items on the list below. This, in my humble opinion is where the science needs to focus. To date we have had studies showing the following food based chemicals and drugs can trigger symptoms identical to gluten sensitivity and celiac disease
- GMO foods
- Intestinal infections (yeast, bacteria, parasites, etc)
- Mold and mycotoxins
- Non gluten proteins found in grain (see below)
- Medications – including antibiotics, blood pressure lowering drugs, and acid blockers
New Grain Research Confirms Gluten is Only Part of the Problem
New research published in the Journal of Proteome Research (click the image on the right to see study) identifies 5 new groups of non-gluten proteins that are responsible for inflammation in patients with celiac disease. These 5 protein families are distinctly different from the gluten proteins traditionally known to cause celiac disease, and this research helps shed light on why so many people who test negative for gluten antibodies respond favorably to a gluten free diet.
These 5 protein groups were all found in wheat and include:
- α-amylase/protease inhibitors
I wrote about #3 in 2012 after research identified these proteins as inflammatory. This new study reconfirms prior research, but also opens up a proverbial can of worms.
How Doctors Diagnose Celiac Disease is All Wrong
Lab tests currently used as the gold standard for diagnosing celiac disease and non celiac gluten sensitivity are vitally flawed. Unfortunately, these known flaws are rarely addressed. Doctors continue to use these tests, ignoring their faults, and patients continue to slip through the cracks. To date, there are no laboratories that commercially test for immune responses to these 5 types of proteins. You can read an excerpt from the study below:
“Compared with healthy controls, patients exhibited significantly higher levels of antibody reactivity to nongluten proteins. The main immunoreactive nongluten antibody target proteins were identified as serpins, purinins, α-amylase/protease inhibitors, globulins, and farinins. Assessment of reactivity toward purified recombinant proteins further confirmed the presence of antibody response to specific antigens. The results demonstrate that, in addition to the well-recognized immune reaction to gluten, celiac disease is associated with a robust humoral response directed at a specific subset of the nongluten proteins of wheat.
The outcome of this study begs the question – “Are there other non gluten, non wheat, grain proteins that cause similar types of inflammatory damage?” The answer is yes. To date, corn and rice have both been found to be problematic. Another study identified an additional 400 gluten proteins in varying grains that more more inflammatory than gliadin (the original type of gluten protein discovered in 1952).
Co-author of the research paper, Dr. Peter Green,of the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University Medical Center had this to say:
“These results indicate that immunologic reactivity in celiac disease may not be limited to wheat gluten, but can involve certain non-gluten proteins, too. I think the findings have implications for understanding the mechanism of the disease and developing new therapeutics.”
Understanding that what we call celiac disease, what we call gluten sensitivity, goes far beyond the confines of a singular protein named gluten. The research above confirms this, and YOU should understand it as well. Why? Some studies show that as many as 92% of patients going gluten free fail to respond to the diet change. Many of the reasons why are listed above. You should study these and present them to your doctor if you are in that 92%.
Always looking out for you,
Dr. Osborne – The Gluten Free Warrior