Leaky gut contributes to autoimmune diseases. The only known cause for any autoimmune disease is gluten sensitivity. If you have autoimmune disease and have not investigated gluten sensitivity as a contributing factor, what are you waiting for?
How does gluten play a role in all of these factors?
Gluten – Gluten directly impacts the intestinal lining through zonulin production. Zonulin is a protein that directly causes leaky gut.
Antibodies – Gluten contributes to the formation of antibodies. Antibodies can cause the secretion of inflammatory chemicals, leading to tissue damage. Additionally, through a process called molecular mimicry, antibodies can cross react with the tissues of the body causing autoimmune disease. Lab tests measuring these antibodies are typically not associated with gluten because most doctors are not trained adequately to identify the connection.
Medications – Many medications commonly contain gluten leading to a direct effect. However, many chronic health conditions caused by gluten sensitivity are misdiagnosed, leading to medicine prescriptions that are not only unnecessary, but can be detrimental to the gastrointestinal tract. Antacid medications are a common example. These medications predispose to infection and lead to abnormal bacteria presence in the gut. Over-utilization of antibiotics to treat viral infection is another example.
Stress – Although not a physical stressor, gluten is a chemical stressor on the body. Chemical stress comes in many forms. One of them is vitamin and mineral deficiency. Loss of key nutrients causes a fundamental breakdown in the body’s ability to modulate the healing and repair process.
Bacteria – Gluten ingestion causes detrimental changes in intestinal flora (AKA gut dysbiosis) predisposing to infection. This is one of the reasons why so many yogurt companies are adding beneficial bacteria to their products. Gut dysbiosis is an epidemic in the U.S.
Cytokines – Gluten induces the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines (chemicals that damage cells).
Neurotransmitters – Gluten causes neurochemical changes in the production of neurotransmitters (chemicals that allow the nervous system to communicate). Examples include: serotonin, dopamine, acetylcholine, epinephrine, and histamine. Gluten is also a neurotoxin that has been shown to damage nerve tissue. This is the reason so many with neurological disease (autism, migraine headaches, ADD, bipolar, schizophrenia, neuropathy, epilepsy, etc.) do well on a gluten-free diet.
Digestive chemicals – Gluten can damage the intestines, the pancreas, the liver, and the gall bladder. All of these organs play a pivotal role in the body’s ability to produce digestive chemicals and enzymes. When this mechanism is compromised, digestive processes start to break down and become ineffective.
Research provided by Gluten-Free Society