What we eat directly translates to how vulnerable we are to disease:
Here’s why 1 in every 100 people now suffer from celiac disease
There was a time when celiac disease (CD) was known as a rare condition that almost
exclusively afflicted individuals of European descent. Today, one out of 100 persons around the world is thought to have the disease. To understand how a supposedly uncommon genetic disorder now
afflicts such a considerable percentage of humanity, it’s time to cut to the chase and examine the very factor that triggers its symptoms – wheat.
It’s not a genetic disorder
CD is attributed to the presence of the HLA-DQ susceptibility locus, a point in one’s
chromosome where a mutation is likely to occur and result to disease, in chromosome 6. This is taken to explain how the condition is likely to occur among members of the same
However, mounting evidence has challenged the very reality of a genetic disorder.
Previously, biologists believed that genes were the end-all and be-all of determining how cells behave, including how susceptible one is to disease. Current findings reveal this to be
To understand cellular behavior, it is not enough to look at genes alone. One also
has to look at epigenetic factors or those factors that are beyond the control of genes. These could include nutrition and the substances in the environment that the cells are exposed
A good example is cystic fibrosis (CF), a supposedly incurable genetic disorder that causes mucus buildup in the lungs,
leading to difficulty breathing and frequent respiratory infections. However, a study has shown that curcumin, a compound found in turmeric, can correct the defects of
CF, proving that epigenetic factors can rectify even those conditions that are supposedly caused by genetic errors.
In the case of celiac disease, symptoms are triggered by the gluten in wheat. These can include abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea, vomiting, fatigue, and reduced weight, among others. Sufferers also tend to have
anemia because of reduced iron intake.
CD is often seen as an inability to process substances that most people would
normally tolerate. But what if it’s the other way around? As in the case of CF, it’s possible that CD, also a genetic disorder, arises not because of errors in one’s genes, but because of an
epigenetic factor, specifically, exposure to an item humans shouldn’t eat.
CD, therefore, is not a disease and HLA-DQ is not a genetic error; rather, they are
smart adaptations that help keep the body safe from the harmful effects of toxins derived from wheat.
The problem with wheat
A study of human history reveals that wheat and other cereals were originally not
part theHomo sapiens‘ diet, with ancient people preferring nutrient-heavy meats and vegetables instead. But over the last few millennia, wheat has become an
indelible part of human existence and civilization. Today, it occurs around the world in various forms, including bread, pasta, and even the host consumed during Catholic Mass. This prevalence of
wheat in human diet could help explain the sudden surge in the numbers of people with CD.
Over the years, several studies have looked into the different components of wheat.
Their findings shed light on why it is not fit for human consumption and why the body rejects it.
Wheat contains the protein gliadin, a component of gluten. A 2007 study revealed that
in both sufferers and non-sufferers of CD, exposure to gliadin resulted in an interleukin-15-mediated response, an immune response that occurs when the
body detects infected cells.
“The data obtained in this pilot study supports the hypothesis that gluten elicits
its harmful effect, throughout an IL15 innate immune response, on all individuals,” the researchers concluded.
Gliadin was also linked to the overproduction of zonulin, resulting in increased gut
permeability that may lead to various conditions, including Type 1 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and liver problems.
When not broken down properly, gliadorphin, one of the amino acids and peptides that
make up gliadin, can pass through the brain and disrupt brain function, leading to conditions that include ADHD,
schizophrenia, and autism. Gliadorphin may also imitate molecules found in certain bacteria, leading the body to initiate an immune response against itself. (Related: Gluten
attacks the brain and damages the nervous system.)
Wheat Germ Agglutinin (WGA) is a lectin, a protein that binds with sugar molecules,
found in wheat. Studies have shown that it can cause damage to intestinal tissue and may contribute to weight gain and insulin resistance. It may also be linked to kidney
Finally, the high levels of glutamic and aspartic acids in wheat may be linked to increased risk of various
neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and multiple sclerosis. Both of these acids can damage nerve cell receptors and lead to nerve and
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