Why Wheat Allergies and Gluten Intolerance??

Summary: Genetically Engineered Wheat Plant Defense Genes Cause Autoimmune Disease and Chronic Inflammation by Crosslinking Human Collagen.  Wheat gluten is used to make plastics and acts like a “glue” in the body. Cancer Protective Genes were Restored in Macaques Placed on a Gluten Free Diet.

 In 1997, Peter J. D’Adamo PhD. published his research intensive book “Eat Right 4 Your Type” in which he describes the agglutination properties of wheat gluten and the potential for disease.  For fifteen years, his book has continued to be a best seller at health food stores. In August 2009, Alessio Fasano M.D. published the Scientific American article, entitled “Surprises from Celiac Disease”, where he lists a multitude of diseases related to wheat consumption including neurological problems, epilepsy, dementia, chronic fatigue, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, schizophenia, diabetes, and other autoimmune diseases.  More recently, Leigh Erin Connealy M.D. in his Newport Natural Newsletter lists Celiac Disease,  as the “the number one undiagnosed disease in the world”, with involvement in  gastrointestional disorders, skin disorders, cancer, diabetes, depression, asthma, early osteoporosis, fatigue and bone or joint pain. Beginning in the high performance sport of tennis, world champion Novak Djokovich has found that a gluten free diet improved his performance and health allowing him to become number one in the world.

Historically, food has not been considered a disease etiology.  Yet, most anaphylactic related emergency room visits, which compromise breathing and cardiac capabilities, are initiated by a food source.  It is well known that mowing the lawn or pulling weeds may generate an allergic response. Grass, tree clippings, pollen, viruses, and bacteria are universally recognized as foreigner intruders to the human body, but this is not yet true of wheat. Through research, the cross reactivity of antibodies between wheat flour and grass pollens have been demonstrated (Merget, 2010) .  The connection between wheat consumption and disease is developing.

Wheat grain has been engineered to be hearty, and thus, has become less digestible than the wheat of 100 years ago (Connealy).  The qualities enhanced through genetic engineering improve disease resistance, shelf-life, and elasticity.  Not surprisingly, theses qualities are determined by the three loci (Glu-A1, Glu-B1, Glu-D1) present on the long arm of group 1 wheat chromosomes which code for the wheat gluten gene (Mondal, 2008) (Anjum, 2007).  A heartier wheat gluten gene begets chewier bread and a longer shelf life. Stronger wheat gluten defense genes make for more disease resistance wheat crops with higher yields.    Those defense genes help to protect the wheat plant against bacteria and fungi, but they also attack the human body.  William Davis M.D. has written an excellent book where he has completed a tremedous amount of research on the history and effects of wheat called “Wheat Belly” (Rodale Books, 2011).

Not surprisingly, the glue-like properties of wheat gluten are not only desirable for bread making but are utilitized in manufacturing as matix material for plastic injection molding (Cho, 2011). Laminates that are produced with WG and poly lactic acid provide a strong oxygen barrier. (Cho, 2010).  Kim (2008) writes  that polymer composites of WG can be produced at room temperature having the strength of polypropylene.   The process of wheat gluten plastic manufacturing can be seen at http://videos.howstuffworks.com/discovery/35506-howstuffworks-show-episode-7-bioplastic-wheat-video.htm.

These qualities may be desirable for injection molding, but would surely be deleterious to human biological function.  Human physiology depends upon the fluidity of nutrients and abundance of oxygen to enhance cell function and growth.  Reddy (2010) has published about the cytotoxicity of gluten and its ability to restrict cell proliferation on wheat gluten films. Yet, given our wheat intensive diets, this plastic injection molding material is abundantly ingested.

Understandably, the body does not digest wheat gluten well.  In fact, the gastrointestinal (GI) system is often where we first notice major pathologies. The stomach lining, given its repeated attempts to digest WG, may produce larger than normal quantities of stomach acid resulting in heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).   One may conduct their own experiment to determine whether heartburn follows ingestion of bread, pizza, or past vs. a gluten free pasta.  Wheat gluten is broken down during the digestive process by an enzyme called a tissue transaminase.  A small component called a gliadin peptide results. What happens next with this gliadin peptide maybe the critical reason as to why wheat gluten precipitates disease.

This gliadin peptide is recognized by the body’s immune system as a foreign intruder or antigen. B lymphocytes of the immune system produce “Y” shaped antibodies  in response to the gliadin peptide.  The arms or tips of these antibodies specifically recognize the antigen and bind tightly to form a gliadin-antibody complex.   The function of  immune cells is to work as a team to destroy, engulf, and excrete antigens.   Unfortunately, before this gliadin-antibody complex can be excreted GI tissue damage occurs allowing it to  leak into circulation.

Once in circulation, the  gliadin-antibody complex crosslinks collagen.  Collagen is a basic type of tissue that is found in blood, bone, tendons, cartilage, lung and organs.   Under a microscope, collagen looks much like a cotton ball that has been pulled apart with the fibers stretched like clouds in the sky.  This meshwork is designed to move fluidly.  Clumping the collagen fibers with gliadin-antibody complexes causes functional impairment.  In lung tissue and respiratory epithelium, asthma results (Salvatori,2008). In joints, rheumatoid arthritis results (El-Chammas, 2011). In the intestines, food and nutrient absorption decreases, and celiac disease (Lucendo,2011) (Dietrick,2006) and/or a variety of neurological diseases result due to poor absorption (Hadjvassiliou, Burk, Barbato, Sharafaddinzadeh,  Boscolo). Functional impairment of collagen may occur at multiple sites within the body.

In addition to the physical disturbance of collagen, the immune system may chemically destroy collagen.  When antibodies attach to the gliadin peptide, they recruit other immune cells such as T lymphocytes to secrete harmful chemicals (cytokines) in an effort to eliminate the foreign gliadin peptide.  Because the gliadin-antibody complexes are attached to collagen, these harmful chemicals intended to  damage the foreign gliadin peptide also damage the healthy collagen.  This destruction of collagen, a tissue which the body recognizes as “self”, maybe the pathology of  what is called “autoimmune disease”.

The combined process of  B lymphocytes secreting antigen specific antibodies, T lymphocytes secreting cytokines, and the involvement of other immune system cells such as macrophages to engulf foreign materials is recognized as “inflammation.  Inflammation is visible externally at a wound site (i.e. pus, soreness, the redness (erythema)) and internally as respiratory mucus, nasal secretions, or joint/muscle pain.  Given the high consumption of wheat gluten,  the immune system is continually generating inflammation within the body. Evidence of overworked immune systems is present in the coughing and sneezing so prevalent.

When an immune system is continually stressed additional disease conditions may arise.  A key to the number of diseases that may be based upon a food etiology may be in the treatments prescribed.   Many diseases are considered to be “inflammatory” in nature such that symptoms are suppressed with anti-inflammatory medications (Prednisone, cortisone or NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, Advil, Alleve, etc.)).  While these therapies significantly slow the action and destruction of the disease, the cause is not removed.  Only through ceasing the consumption of WG and other offending foods will the gliadin-antibody complexes clear the body and the immune system’s inflammatory defense process calm. In the past, medicine has treated this inflammation.  Now, we must remove the cause, and next provide the proper nutrients to help the body repair the damage.

Also consider the incidence of cancer.  When normal cells replicate, they recognize natural borders and stop replication within those borders. DNA replication processes, which divide one cell into two, do result in errors particularly with heavy use of mammograms, CT scans, chemicals, etc. Fortunately, DNA repair mechanisms are in place to correct these errors.  A cancer cell may result when a normal selfcell that has lost its stop mechanisms begins to replicate uncontrollably.  Since a cancer cell was once a “self” cell, it is difficult for the immune system to stop it because the cell surface looks like “self” and not a foreign invader.

Intuitively, an immune system that is overwhelmed with defending the body from sticky wheat gluten would be less available to correct DNA replication errors and prevent cancer.  Scientists at the Tulane National Primate Research Center in Covington, Louisiana found that gluten sensitive rhesus macaque primates placed on a gluten free diet restored their cancer protective genes! (Sestak K., et al 2011).  Should society stop eating wheat gluten and allow their immune systems to focus on cancer prevention?  John Thomas’ prediction of a three trillion dollar economic stimulus may result!


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Sestak K, Conroy L, Aye PP, Mehra S, Doxiadis GG, Kaushal D, “Improved Xenobiotic metabolism and reduced susceptibility to cancer in gluten-sensitive macaques upon introduction of a gluten-free diet”. PLoS One 2011 Apr 12;6(4):e18648

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Sharafaddinzadeh N, Tirdad R, Pipelzadeh M, Ali AA, “Wallenberg Syndrome as a sole presentation of celiac disease.” Neurosciences (Riyadh) 2008  Apr  13(2):179-81

Thomas, John, 2012 video at http://hsdent.com/john-thomas/

Copyright © 2012.  All Rights Reserved.

October 8, 2012

Disclaimer:  The ERB is a literature research team presenting the findings of other researchers. The ERB is not licensed medical nor dietary clinicians and will not give medical nor dietary advice.   Any information presented on this website should not be substituted for the advice of a licensed physician or nutritionist.  Users of this website accept the sole responsibility to conduct their own due diligence on topics presented and to consult licensed medical professionals to review their material.  We make no warranties or representations on the information presented and should users utilize this research without consulting a professional, they assume all responsibility for their actions and the consequences.


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