How Gluten Promotes Leaky Gut (Even if You are NOT Gluten Sensitive)
You’ve heard a lot about the benefits of a gluten-free diet. You may have even made the choice to eliminate grains and gluten from your diet.
And you’ve probably also seen the backlash against this way of eating from a few vocal bloggers, journalists, doctors and possibly even your own friends and family. Case in point: We recently came across an article in Time, titled, “Eat More Gluten, The Fad Must Die.” Separately, we received an email with the subject line, “99% of People Should Stop Eating Gluten Free.”
Some critics claim a gluten-free diet will cause you to miss out on critical nutrients. Others claim that grain-free diet is only necessary for the less than one percent of the population (two to three million Americans) who suffer from Celiac disease. For anyone else, they claim, a gluten-free diet has no particular benefit.
Sadly, these conclusions are reckless and unfounded. Even if you’re able to consume foods containing gluten with no apparent adverse effects, a grain-free diet is critical to your long-term health.
Recommended: Better Breads – 25 Quick & Delicious Gluten-Free, Paleo and Low-Carb Breads
It’s easy to refute the claim that, “99 percent of people should stop eating gluten free.” This is based on the fact that less than 1 percent of the people in the U.S. are currently diagnosed as Celiac. It does not account for those who have the disease and have not been diagnosed. More importantly, it excludes the additional 18 million Americans known to suffer from gluten sensitivity – a heightened immune response to gluten that causes discomfort and a wide range of systemic effects.
And research continues to mount that gluten is not the only problematic compound in cereal grains. Furthermore, the immune response that gluten elicits in some people – most notably Celiacs – is NOT the only health issue to be concerned about.
New research, published by Dr. Alessio Fasano at Harvard, confirms that gluten-containing foods impact the health of ALL who consume them, by increasing the risk of a “leaky gut.”
Gluten: The Loaded Gun for Leaky Gut Syndrome
Dr. Fasano discovered that exposure to gliadin – a protein found in gluten – increases the permeability of the epithelial lining of the gut. And this happens in healthy subjects, as well as those with Celiac.
A healthy gut plays a critical role in the function of your immune system. It also helps extract nutrients from your food, allowing these compounds to enter the bloodstream where they can nourish your body. But the gut also serves as a critical barrier to block harmful substances and undigested food particles from entering the bloodstream.
However, when the small spaces between gut cells (called tight junctions) expand, a wide range of substances that could never permeate a healthy gut are able to pass right through into the bloodstream.
Consumption of gliadin was also found to increase the permeability of the blood-brain barrier, allowing proteins, viruses, bacteria and toxins in the blood to breach this normally safeguarded space.
As you can imagine, a “leaky” gut and brain have been linked to a host of seemingly unrelated symptoms and chronic diseases including (but not limited to):
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Food allergies
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Lou Gehrig’s disease
- Cystic Fibrosis
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Brain fog and fatigue
While these conditions may seem disconnected, they share a common root: Inflammation.
Dr. David Perlmutter, M.D., renowned neurologist and the author of Brain Maker: The Power of Gut Microbes to Heal and Protect Your Brain for Life says that, “In millions of people today, the gut is largely disrupted by increased intestinal permeability which fuels a continuous state of low-grade inflammation.”
Gluten Promotes Inflammation: The Cornerstone of Chronic Disease
Among the substances that leak into the bloodstream from the gut, one of these is particularly nefarious: lipopolysaccharide (LPS).
LPS is a compound that makes up the outer membrane of certain types of bacteria in the gut. These bacteria normally live within the confines of your gut without issue. But when they pass into the bloodstream – where they don’t belong – they cause a sharp inflammatory response. In fact, LPS is so inflammatory that it is actually used experimentally in the lab to create inflammation.
A leaky gut will increase the amount of LPS that circulates in your blood. The inevitable results are systemic inflammation (including brain inflammation) and increased risk of disease.
(NOTE: You can test your levels of LPS, and therefore your degree of gut permeability, with a test called the Cyrex Array 2. The test costs around $200.)
Heal Your Gut and Reduce Inflammation with a Gluten Free Ancestral Diet
Research now shows that gluten can cause long-term health consequences… even in the absence of gluten sensitivity or Celiac disease.
Focus your diet on the nutrient-dense foods our ancestors enjoyed – including gut-healing foods like bone broth and saturated fats from animals raised on pasture – to help seal and heal your gut and reduce the systemic inflammation associated with chronic disease.
Do you have any experience with leaky gut syndome? If so, how did you heal it?
Jacque Thornton says
I suspect that I have severe leaky gut. I have chronic RA and am on some major medications with terrible side effects and fatal ones as well in an attempt to control the inflammation and excruciating pain. I would like to know what steps I take to heal my gut. I’m aware of all of the foods that I need to eliminate from my diet and many that I need to include, but I do not know what other measures I need to take. I have added pharmaceutical grade probiotics and L,Glutinmine, but I would like to know what else I can do to help my condition and hopefully cure it. Thank you.
aaron mann says
Check out Dr. Axe’s article on how to heal leaky gut: https://draxe.com/4-steps-to-heal-leaky-gut-and-autoimmune-disease/. Also check out Dr. Jocker’s website for several articles: https://drjockers.com/?s=leaky+gut. Many of the suggestions are the same. As you know, the bottom line is to eat real foods. Hope this helps.
Kelley Herring says
There are plenty of “real” foods that promote leaky gut. Gluten, quinoa, dairy – to name just a few.
Kate Hyde says
I do not suffer from Celiac’s but I do suffer from increased, obvious and almost immediate inflammation of the lower intestine when I eat the normal American diet: bread, pasta, cereals, etc. When I eliminate all of those food items from my diet I don’t. None the less, I can eat imported wheat products from Europe such as organic, imported Italian pasta. I can also eat bread not made from American wheat when traveling outside the US with no adverse reactions. . Perhaps it’s not really the gluten but something else being carried by grains and cereals made from wheat , rye, and oats grown in the US? None the less, I think chronic inflammation is something best to be avoided, so I will continue to eat a diet free from grains products manufactured in the US.
Kitty Wells says
Jacque – Bone broth and collagen powder are both commonly cited to help leaky gut. Plus exciting new research shows that curcumin from turmeric also helps heal leaky gut. You can search for these studies: “Curcumin-mediated regulation of intestinal barrier function: The mechanism underlying its beneficial effects.” and “Curcumin improves intestinal barrier function: modulation of intracellular signaling, and organization of tight junctions.”
Kate – most of the grain grown in America is doused in Roundup and its monster molecule glyphosate. Glyphosate causes many health problems including leaky gut.
Des Young says
Probably a result of use of Roundup in American grain crops.
Des Young says
We have friend sufferers who are having great results by taking Fossil shell powder daily, research the benefits could be your answer
Kim Paisley says
My wife is taking Tomoxefin required for Breast Cancer Surgery . The Tomoxifen intake is being taken at somewhat a questionable reluctance ! Anyway, as it may cause good bacteria destruction, basic “Gut” digestion problems., a leaky gut. What combinations / additions, can accompany this medication to result in a positive outcome ?
marie lockie says
look for all the items that triggered the cancer- dental materials, sensitivity to inhalants etc My excessive number of binding sites predicted certain cancer recurrence- i stopped tamoxifen, fixed dental materials, continued on the Atkins diet that had earlier solved our multiple familial depressions. A good kinesiologist may help speedup identification of your enemies. Get UK doctor Keith Scott Mumby’s “Diet Wise” USA 2005.
Does a leaky gut also causes gerd? My wife has been suffering from it and we still don’t know how to treat it and what caused it.
Kendra perry says
Thanks for sharing such a great knowledge about leaky gut syndrome because the gut is the most crucial part of the human being. If your gut is pain-free no dought you feel great. I like your all blogs that are very health conscious and useful for stay healthy but I think the paleo diet is very helpful to fight with leaky gut.
Larkin Small says
Hi, autism and adhd are not chronic diseases. They are different neural types of brain structures. What do you have to say about that.