The 3rd in the series,
Lying adjacent to the layer of gut flora described in the last post is your intestinal wall. This is lined with a selectively permeable membrane which, unlike a normal permeable membrane (like a coffee filter), is genetically coded to allow only a specific selection of chemicals, proteins, enzymes, fats, and sugars through it into the bloodstream.
The cells that make up this membrane are bound together with organic bonds called “tight junctions” that usually require about 50 different biological processes to separate them, like a 50-step PIN code. The tight junctions would typically separate when the gut detects the trace of a new virus or toxin, allowing a microscopic trace of the toxin between the cells into the bloodstream before closing – the theory being that these trace elements teach the immune system how to fight the infections, similar to the way a vaccination works. This immune reaction causes minor inflammation but it is so short-lived you’d probably never know it happened.
The great gut disrupter is wheat (actually, gluten). Only cultivated for about 400 generations – and for many communities, the exposure to it has been far more recent than that – wheat is seen by many doctors and dietary experts, whether LCHF proponents or not, as damaging to many, if not most, humans.
For more information check out wheat belly by Dr William Davis!
Wheat – along with barley, rye and other grains – contains gluten, of which gliadin is an important constituent. In the human gut, gliadin has the unique ability to activate a protein in the intestinal membrane called zonulin that miraculously unlocks the 50-step PIN code, separating the gut-lining cells and allowing random large molecules into the bloodstream: food particles, bacteria, stomach acids and pretty much any toxic substance that was destined to be flushed down the loo rather than absorbed into your body. This is known as leaky gut syndrome.
When all these foreign molecules make it into your bloodstream, your immune system responds as it would against those microscopic traces; only this time on a much grander scale. The scene is thus set for a range of auto-immune diseases to potentially take hold in those genetically predisposed to them. Coeliac disease has long been identified as a hypersensitivity to gluten, but even those not predisposed to it may experience similar symptoms when consuming gluten-containing grains, the result of what’s now known as non-coeliac gluten sensitivity. Leaky gut syndrome is now associated with type-1 diabetes, coeliac disease, Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome and other digestion-related maladies, while gluten consumption is believed to negatively affect the brain, increasing the chances of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of senility.
Thanks for reading and hanging in there! I know there is a lot to ‘digest’ in this series. In the last post of this series we will learn about chronic inflammation. Until then I hope you find that one as interesting as the previous series learning.