Gluten & Its Friends: The Series – Part Two

Last week I wrote the first part of my gluten series, which explained the different gluten intolerances. I also briefly mentioned wheat allergies and how they can also be present without a gluten intolerance. If you haven’t done so already, please read Gluten and its friends – Part One as it will provide you with the information needed to understand what comes next. This blog will focus on the effects of gluten, wheat and WGA, on the gut and intestinal permeability.

The Gut
The first blog I ever wrote, ‘Look after your gut so it can look after you’, discussed the importance of gut health, which is linked to this topic as well.

Wheat protein is a gut irritant that causes inflammation – the immune systems automatic response to injury. When you get a cut, it goes red and inflamed around that cut, yes? Well, that’s exactly what is happening inside your gut! When it gets irritated by wheat, it becomes inflamed in reaction. But why is this such an issue?

The guts’ main function is to allow the nutrients, from digested food, through the gut walls and into bloodstream. Inflammation causes the junctions between the cells in the gut wall to become weak; allowing unwanted contaminants to pass through as well. This is called intestinal permeability but, is more commonly known as leaky gut – one of the main factors in the development of autoimmune diseases.

So, what have we established so far? Consuming wheat triggers inflammation, that can then go on to cause increased intestinal permeability. But wait, there’s more! Gluten further accelerates this process by stimulating the release of Zonulin, a protein that solely loosens the junctions between cells in the gut wall.

It doesn’t stop there…

Wheat Germ agglutinin (WGA) is an immune disrupting protein, found in wheat, that also causes the gut wall to become more permeable.

Wheat, gluten and WGA can individually exist and cause inflammation within our gut, without the presence of each other. You can have a reaction to wheat or WGA without having a gluten sensitivity. However, generally they come as a package deal and all together form a toxic combination. I’ll leave it here for now, as the next blog topic needs a little more depth. I’ll be explaining molecular mimicry and how our body, while trying to protect us, can actually cause damage. Stay tuned, there’s so much more information to come!

Sarah Major