The idea that “you are what you eat” is actually very true! Gluten can affect our bodies, and our lives, in unbelievable ways. Because most of the health-based functions of our bodies stem from the gut, gluten consumption has a direct impact on the gut microbiome – the place where most bacterial, viral, and fungal cells live. These trillions of microbes keep the body working as it should, so the healthier the microbiome, the healthier the body.
According to experts, any disruption to the gut cells can have a huge impact, good and bad, on overall health. Here are three specific ways in which gluten causes significant damage to the microbiome:
- Gluten Can Cause Celiac Disease: Because gluten is a binding protein that is difficult for the body to break down, it triggers an autoimmune reaction which damages the intestinal lining and causes inflammation. This is celiac disease. Although pretty much everyone eats gluten, not everyone gets celiac disease. Research suggests that the microbiome, which is genetically unique to each of us, greatly influences our reaction to gluten.
- Gluten Can Damage the Immune System: About 75% of our immune system resides in the gut. Gluten intolerance and sensitivity can set an immune response into motion by signaling antibodies to actually attack the “good” cells that naturally respond to and try to fix the “problem.” Gluten sensitivity can make you feel bloated or nauseous, but gluten intolerance can be much more serious. It involves improper absorption of nutrients, which can lead to diarrhea, constipation, malnutrition, dehydration, and weight loss.
- Gluten Can Trigger Serious Health Issues: Food consumption and digestion issues are typically associated with only “stomach-related” health problems. However, the rest of the body can be affected too. Once things are broken down in the gut – the proteins, toxins, nutrients, antibodies – they move to the bloodstream and can go anywhere in the body. A negative reaction to gluten can cause an overproduction of antibodies to attack and damage the area. It could be the brain, the thyroid, the pancreas, the kidneys, etc., each of which are vital to how our bodies work.