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Do you suffer from lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, Hashimoto’s, multiple sclerosis, or any other autoimmune disease? If so, without a doubt that gluten caused the flame of your disease, and continuing to eat it is simply adding more fuel to the fire.

Gluten, a protein found naturally in certain grains, is now found almost everywhere in our modern world. It is, of course, in flour-based foods such as pasta and bread, but it is also used as a filler in medications and supplements, it is the glue that holds meat substitutes together, it is in body products, such like shampoo and toothpaste, and, thanks to cross contamination, it’s even in grains that are marked gluten-free.

Today’s gluten is not the same gluten that your grandparents ate. In order to create ever fluffier cakes and sturdier wheat, scientists developed new hybrid wheat varieties that contain entirely new forms of gluten not found in any of the original plants, and this is what makes our cupcakes and buns are bigger and fluffier.

The scientists were also able to deaminate gluten, which allows it to dissolve in liquids and other previously gluten-free products, such as meat and shampoo. These two factors mean that we are not only eating a different type of gluten than our ancestors ate, we are eating and being exposed too much more of it.

This modified and now ubiquitous protein, gluten, causes problems with both your gut health and the immune system, creating a perfect storm for the development and progression of inflammatory and autoimmune disease. Even if you don’t have an inflammatory or autoimmune disease, eating gluten can still be detrimental to your health, as it has been linked to more than 55 diseases. The bottom line is that if you have an autoimmune disease, or any inflammatory condition, you shouldn’t be eating gluten, period. Here are three reasons why.

3 reasons to give up gluten if you have an autoimmune disease

Gluten causes leaky gut

When you eat gluten, whether it’s through a piece of bread, the meat in your lunch, or one of the many hidden sources of gluten, and it travels through your stomach and into your small intestine, we know, from the research, which triggers the release of zonulin. Zonulin is a chemical that signals the tight junctions in the intestinal wall to open them and create intestinal permeability, also known as leaky gut.

You can think of the lining of the intestine as a kind of drawbridge. Small boats (micronutrients in food) that are intended to travel back and forth are able to pass under the bridge without any problem. But, when gluten releases zonulin, it causes the drawbridge to go up, allowing larger ships (big proteins like gluten) to cross over when they weren’t meant to pass by. In the case of your gut, it is microbes, toxins, proteins, and partially digested food particles that are passing under the drawbridge, and escaping into the bloodstream.

This leaky gut condition has been shown, through research (and confirmed in other practices), to be one of the preconditions for the development of an autoimmune disease. And, once you have an autoimmune disease, leaving your leaky gut untreated can cause your autoimmune condition to progress placing you in those most at risk of developing another autoimmune disease. So what is the link between a leaky gut and autoimmune disease?

Since your immune system marks all toxins, microbes, and food particles like gluten (which now floods your bloodstream and wasn’t supposed to be there) as dangerous invaders, and creates inflammation to get rid of them, it takes us to point out the number two reason for giving up gluten.

Gluten causes inflammation

If you have an autoimmune disease, then that means that somewhere along the way, your immune system rebelled and started attacking the body’s own tissues. This shift from healthy to autoimmune is not instantaneous, it happens over the years. It’s a spectrum, and the factor that pushes up the spectrum and into autoimmunity is inflammation.

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Inflammation is the natural response of the immune system to anything it deems dangerous, be it a cut, a virus, or the gluten you ate on a piece of birthday cake that slipped through your leaky gut. An estimated one percent of the population has celiac disease and one in 30 people have a sensitivity to gluten, and consuming gluten causes inflammation every time they eat it. What’s more, an estimated 99 percent of people with gluten sensitivity are undiagnosed, so they’re fanning the flames of their inflammation without even knowing it.

When your immune system is continually creating inflammation in response to the gluten you’re eating, your leaky gut, and the microbes and toxins that flood your bloodstream, you develop chronic inflammation. Your immune system is already stressed and less able to attack invading pathogens with precision. Instead, he begins indiscriminately sending wave after wave of attacks in a desperate attempt to fight off the invaders. Over time, the body’s own tissues end up on the receiving end of attack, leading to an autoimmune disease.

The only way to give your immune system the pause it needs to regain its precision so that it can stop attacking you by mistake is to eliminate gluten entirely. That last word, in its entirety, is important because recent research has shown that consuming gluten can raise your antibodies to gluten for up to three months, which means that even if you only ate gluten four times a year, you would be in an inflammatory state for one year.

Gluten looks like your own tissues

Beyond creating a leaky gut, gluten poses a serious risk to those with autoimmunity due to a phenomenon called molecular mimicry, which is a dangerous case of mistaken identity.

Every time your body is exposed to an invader (in this case gluten), your immune system memorizes its structure so that the perfect defense against that pathogen can be developed and recognized in the future. Unfortunately, the immune system’s recognition system is not perfect; As long as the structure of a molecule is similar enough, the immune system registers it as an invader and attacks.

Gluten, which is a particularly large protein, becomes structurally similar to a number of tissues in the body, particularly the thyroid. Remember, if you have an autoimmune disease, you have a leaky gut and when the ‘drawbridge is open’ large proteins like gluten enter the bloodstream, where the immune system detects and attacks them.

In those with autoimmune thyroid disease, every time they eat gluten, the immune system sends out antibodies to detect and destroy gluten, but since the structure of gluten and that of the thyroid gland tissues look so similar, some of those cells the immune system ends up attacking the thyroid by mistake.

There are several other food proteins, such as the casein in dairy products that have a molecular structure similar to gluten. Due to this molecular mimicry, when you eat dairy your body can get confused into thinking that you just ate a plate of pasta and trigger an immune reaction.

How to heal gluten damage?

If you have an autoimmune disease or are anywhere on the autoimmune spectrum (fibromyalgia, inflammation, chronic fatigue, etc.), the best thing you can do for your health is to get rid of 100% gluten as soon as possible. If not, gluten will keep your tight junctions open and your gut leaky, your body may mistake your own tissues for gluten as a molecular memory, and your body will remain in a chronic state of inflammation.

In fact, healing your gut and eliminating gluten from your diet are two of the most impactful changes you can make to reverse your autoimmune disease.

 

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