Food intolerance is usually confused with food allergies. Food intolerance means the inability or difficulty of your body to digest certain foods while food allergies trigger the immune system when your body recognises a certain type of food as harmful, even when it is not. Any food that you are allergic to even if consumed in very small amounts can trigger an allergic reaction. Lets explore these issues in more depth.
Although the symptoms of the two conditions overlap sometimes, food intolerance has nothing to do with the immune system. Diagnosing food intolerance is usually very difficult because the symptoms are normally delayed and can take up to 2-3 days to occur.
Some of the common foods associated with food intolerance include dairy products, grains that contain gluten and foods associated with causing intestinal gas buildup e.g. beans and cabbage.
Common symptoms of food intolerances include; Having an irritable bowel, stomach aches, bloating, migraines, coughing and a running nose and hives.
Our focus mainly is on wheat and gluten and how they affect our health to the point of causing food intolerance.
WHEAT AND GLUTEN
We all know that wheat is a grain and is considered as a carbohydrate. However, it also contains a few proteins namely; gluten, wheat germ agglutinin and opioid peptides. These proteins contained in wheat cause a lot more trouble in the long run to any normal person regularly consuming wheat products.
Gluten in itself constitutes 80 % of the protein found in wheat, rye, and barley.
HOW DO WHEAT AND GLUTEN AFFECT OUR HEALTH?
1. The main disease associated with wheat consumption is celiac disease and it is treated by complete avoidance of consumption of wheat and gluten products. However, recent studies have indicated that people have shown sensitivities to gluten products that is not celiac disease. This is due to the fact that wheat contains the other two components; wheat germ agglutinin and amylase trypsin inhibitor which you may be reacting to. This means that the mere fact that you do not have celiac disease does not make it safe for you to consume wheat products.
2. Inflammation is a common symptom for people with celiac disease caused by the proteins contained in wheat. These proteins are usually irritating to the gut leading to an inflammation. However, for people not sensitive to gluten, the enzyme amylase trypsin inhibitor can have the exact same inflammatory effect to your GI tract by stimulating immune cells. This inflammation has the following effects to your health:
It increases the permeability of your internal organs by causing the intestinal cells to prematurely die causing oxidation on those cells which leads to loosening the junctions between the cells in the walls of the gut. Now, the gut helps the body filter nutritious stuff consumed from germs and other things not needed in the body. When the permeability of your gut is loosened, the gut becomes leaky and the body takes in the harmful things that it does not need like viruses into the bloodstream and this may cause you to have many unwanted diseases.
On top of this, a protein called zonulin, which is stimulated by gluten also contributes to loosening the junctions of the cells in the gut wall causing the problem of increased permeability which is the major cause for the increased development of autoimmune diseases.
3. The problem of increased permeability may cause a situation known as molecular mimicry to develop in your body. Among the products not allowed to pass into your bloodstream is gluten. When it gets through, its component known as gliadin, which is similar in structure to other proteins found in tissues in areas such as the pancreas and thyroid, tries to imitate some of the body tissues.
When antibodies are trying to fight this foreign object and it looks like your body tissue, the antibodies may start attacking your own body causing diseases such as hypothyroidism and type 1 diabetes. Gliadin also looks like the cell linings of the gut.
4. Heart diseases have been closely associated with gluten. Antibodies formed to fight against gluten have been discovered to at times also attack the heart tissues leading to various heart diseases.
5. Vulnerability to Alzheimer’s disease and dementia have been closely associated with the issue of inflammation in the gut and microbiome disturbances. Other symptoms also include fatigue and brain fog. However, this does not mean that gluten is the cause of all known heart conditions.
6. A skin condition caused by the celiac disease known as dermatitis herpetiformis is also part of the diseases associated with gluten. Its symptoms include red rashes with blisters which are very itchy it is however not limited to celiac disease.
7. Gluten has also been connected to causing cancer but not promoting it.
8. Wheat germ agglutinin has the following effects;
It can cause a disruption of the mucous membrane of the gut causing an overgrowth in the bacteria. This will lead to the formation of digestive issues and diseases like ulcers and GERD which will restrict you from eating many things.
The lectin may circulate in the brain causing leptin resistance leading to effects such as those of insulin. These two could be a major cause of obesity as they are the most important to maintain and regulate a normal body weight.
It also causes vitamin D deficiency together with another component in wheat, this will lead to issues such as a weak immune system and vulnerability to bacterial attacks.
9. The opioid peptides can be addictive and cause the consumer to be addicted to wheat products. Removal of wheat to their diet can be detrimental to their health and cause withdrawal symptoms.
Wheat is very predominant in our society nowadays and is almost in everything we eat. A removal of wheat and grain containing gluten products from your diet will ensure you lead a more safe and healthy lifestyle. Autoimmune diseases will be avoided. Gluten is not the cause of all health problems discussed above, but to some people, it just might be.
So let us engage and consume more healthy products. The mere fact that you don’t have celiac disease does not guarantee that you are not at risk of contracting diseases associated with wheat and gluten. It is better to deal with this issue now than have to treat it later when it turns into a serious condition.