Gluten & Its Friends: The Series – Part Three (Molecular Mimicry)

If you have been following along with this blog series; so far, we have covered the types of intolerances that exist, the effect that wheat and wheat germ agglutinin (WGA) have on the gut, the main function of the gut, intestinal permeability, and why a combination of these things create so many problems. Today we are going to expand into molecular mimicry and its’ role in creating autoimmune disorders. If you haven’t read the previous two blogs, please do so now, in order to understand the next stage of information.

We are going to kick-off from permeability – the tight junctions between the intestinal cells, become weaker and separate, allowing unwanted contaminants to make their way into the bloodstream. When this occurs, our immune system forms antibodies that fight against the contaminants to keep them from harming us. All this sounds great, right? For the most part it is. This is how our body stops us from getting sick and fights illnesses. However, when the unwanted contaminants look similar to your body’s existing tissue, it can start to attack healthy cells as well. The similarity in cells is what we call molecular mimicry.

So, how does this all tie in with gluten consumption? Gluten is made up of two proteins: glutenin and gliadin but, it is the gliadin element that causes most of the health issues. It’s the gliadin protein that overlaps in structure with numerous human proteins, in particular, those lining the gut. It is the similarity in their structures, the molecular mimicry, that initiates the body’s attack on itself.

This misdirected attack on healthy functioning cells, when trying to eradicated unwanted toxins from the body, is called autoimmunity. Common or well-known autoimmune disorders include: coeliac disease, Crohn’s disease, psoriasis, endometriosis, Hashimoto’s disease, dermatitis herpetiformis (mentioned this in part 1), Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Lupus, type 1 diabetes and many more.

You should now have a basic understanding of why and how certain diseases can be formed. The statistics show a massive increase in the amount of people that suffer from the above conditions, which can be directly related to the way we eat as a generation. We are time poor and it’s hard to find ready-made or quick-to-use products that don’t include gluten (or any of its’ or friends). The more exposure we have, to these “foods” (if you can call them that), the weaker our gut becomes and the harder it is to reverse the damage created. You might be thinking, “my body doesn’t have an issue eating these things” but unfortunately, these conditions are progressive, meaning that you may not have external symptoms now but, they can form over time. Try cutting it all out, you might be surprised at what you find!

Sarah Major