- Unfortunately, this is the only good part of the entire process…what happens in the mouth. Yes, gluten makes food texture delicious and your tongue gets a tasty treat. The digestion process also starts in your mouth, teeth grind the food and digestive enzymes in the saliva start to break apart carbohydrates into simpler sugars.
- Stomach acid and digestive enzymes break apart wheat and all other foods into smaller digestible fragments. This is like breaking a completed Lego toy into its parts.
- Gluten, one of the groups of proteins in wheat, is released and starts to get broken into even smaller proteins, one being gliadin (a similar protein is called hordein in barley, secalin in rye and avenin in oats). However, these types of proteins (high in prolines and glutamines) are difficult to completely digest by the body.
- Partially digested gliadin peptides (small chains of proteins) interact with the mucus layer in the intestinal wall and release immune cells (interleukins).
- Some of these immune cells (interleukins) trigger automatic cell death in the intestinal cells. Yep, your cells are killing themselves in response to gluten!
- At the same time, some of the gliadin proteins are interacting with receptors (think of a handshake) on the intestinal cells which triggers a signaling protein to be released called Zonulin. Zonulin signals the intestinal cells to widen the gaps between themselves, essentially opening the gates to anyone who wants to come inside the body! This is called increased intestinal permeability and it happens in ALL PEOPLE when they eat gluten! Fun fact- Vibrio cholerae, the bacteria that causes the fun diarrhea illness called cholera, produces a chemical that mimics zonulin to give you that extra watery diarrhea that dehydrates and kills you!
- Increased permeability on this scale, as you can imagine, is BAD. All sorts of food and bacterial proteins, that are not supposed to be in there, enter the body and the immune system sees them as a threat. This causes more immune cells to be activated, more inflammation occurs and increased intestinal damage follows. This is called “kicking you when you’re down”! Fun fact number two- researchers think zonulin also has the same effect on the blood brain barrier, the barrier that keeps all the bad stuff out of your brain!
- Increased zonulin has been linked to MANY immune-related diseases such as celiac disease, asthma, multiple sclerosis, diabetes Type I, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Grave’s disease, cancer and more! Yay gluten! How about some bread with a nice side of thyroid disease?!
Do you love bread and pasta? Yeah, unfortunately, just about everybody does. I know everyone is throwing around that “gluten” term these days. But, do you really know what it is and what it does to your body? Check out the facts! I bet you’ll be surprised! The Process: