If you’ve ever been unfortunate enough to have experienced digestive issues, and there’s a strong chance you will have, you’ll know how awful it can make you feel. For most, digestive issues are not very common and often only occur every so often. For people suffering with gluten-related issues, whether they be: Celiac disease, gluten sensitivity related, gluten intolerant related, or anything else for that matter, digestive issues are unfortunately a part of everyday life until a diagnosis is made, and gluten is removed from the diet. Gluten-free diets are more prevalent in 2018 than ever before, and that trend looks set to continue for 2019. But how does glutes cause havoc in your gut? Let’s find out, shall we?
What is gluten? – First things first, in order to find out how gluten affects the gut, we first need to find out what it is. Gluten is a collective term used for a series of proteins found within grains. It is most prevalent in grains such as: barley, rye, and wheat. The protein is referred to as a sticky protein because it helps to hold the nutrient stores of the plant it is located within. It is the protein that gives dough that stretchy and elastic feel. Because it is so sticky, it is the perfect addition to many processed foods, as it helps to bind them together. Though some people can consume gluten with no ill-effects whatsoever, others are not so fortunate.
Why is gluten such an issue now? – More and more people are adopting gluten-free diets and lifestyles and are not looking back. They are enjoying countless health and wellness benefits and many admit to wishing they’d started sooner. Many experts believe that the gluten we consume nowadays, is not the same as the gluten that was consumed generations ago. Wheat, and other grains have now been so heavily processed and genetically modified that the proteins they contain are essentially ‘brand new’. These new proteins are considered to be the root (pardon the pun) cause of the problems relating to gluten intolerances, sensitivity, and other issues.
What happens when we eat gluten? – When we consume products containing gluten, bread for example, once it reaches your intestines, an enzyme produced in the intestinal wall known as tissue transglutaminase, gets to work on breaking down the gluten and converting it into gliadin and glutenin, which are the original building blocks making up the gluten in the first place. Here’s where things get tricky for some people. As the produce travels along your digestive system, gut-associated lymphoid tissue, or GALT as it is known, gets to work. GALT is basically the immune system of the gut. It works like a security guard, examining everything to ensure that there are no potentially dangerous ingredients in there. If you can eat gluten with no issues, this process runs smoothly. If however, you suffer from a gluten-related condition, the GALT identifies the gliadin protein as a threat. It dispatches antibodies to try to neutralize the threat. The problem is that these antibodies also attack the tissue transglutaminase. This causes disruptions to cells in the gut known as microvilli, which are responsible for nutrient absorption. This negatively impacts nutrient absorption. Inflammation in the gut also occurs, leading to bloating, pain, gas, cramping, and other digestive issues.