Why Gluten-free diets are not the ultimate answer

I recently had to write a piece on The Rainbow Diet and Gluten.Talk about uncovering a bag of worms! I seemed to keep coming back to a diet called the Paleo Diet, which claims to be low carb and gluten-free. Only recently, we covered research from Paleontologists saying that it was based on a false premise and that people in those times did eat carbs, especially tubers (potatoes, carrots etc.) and even some grains. 

According to Wikipedia, 'Gluten is a mixture of proteins found in wheat and related grains including barley and rye'. Gluten is a mixture of two proteins (gliadin and glutenin) ofen found naturally conjoined with polysaccharide starches.  It cannot be digested by humans - we do not posses the enzymes to do it, because we don't possess the DNA to direct the enzyme production. We probably never have done - not even in Paleo times.

However, we have trilions of little friends in our gut that love polysaccharides, and these proteins and peptides. They chomp them up. (The link at the bottom of this blog will take you to an article featuring the latest research.)

It seems to me that this is the ultimate clue to what is really going on. We human hosts have always been completely Gluten intolerant. The issue is not taking us back to foods of long, long ago - foods we may, or may not have eaten. It is rebuilding our lost microbiomes so they can make us gluten tolerant. The fact is that these sterile times are bad for the good guys (commensal bacteria) which are incredibly fragile, but not that bad for pathogens, which are pretty tough. Net result? Our gut microbiomes lose diversity and the pathogens take more control than they should.

Celiac, or coeliac, disease is an 'auto-immune disease', the thing that gut expert, the late Gerald Green insisted just did not exist. An illness fabricated by scientists because they had no real explanation, and certainly no cure. 1 in 140 Americans have this auto-immune gluten intolerance.

Three recent studies are interesting on the subject. One where healthy people ate a gluten-free diet (GFD) for a month. Net result was that the numbers of commensal bacteria declined, and so did the host's immune system. But the levels of pathogens went up, all in line with a decrease in polysaccharide consumption. A second study repeated all this with children who already had auto-immune disease. Results were the same. So the kids became sicker overall, but had less problem with their gut.

So, don't feed your good guys, they then can't build a strong immune system, and you won't be sick any more in the short-term. But hang on. Don't you need an immune system that helps you fight off all the illnesses the world will throw at you? Aren't you just making trouble for yourself in the longer term?

And so we come to the third study. Already, scientists are finding which bacteria can digest the gluten for you, allowing you to feed your good bacteria and have a strong immune system.

The days of the auto-immune disease could well be numbered. If the scientists don't know what's going on, your bacteria most certainly do. Yet again, we've almost certainly damaged the ones that help us.

For more on the research on this CLICK HERE