When you tell people you have Celiac Disease, 99% of them are sympathetic to your pain.
“Oh noooooooo, I would die if I didn’t have bread” is the usual first response followed by a few general questions about when we found out and how exactly the thing works.
Because this topic comes up so frequently in our lives, we all have a few sentences that we recite every time someone asks what exactly Celiac Disease is.
For the longest time, I had a 30 second speel that hit all the general ideas about Celiac Disease and how it worked while keeping things pretty simple to understand and appropriate for a dinner table.
Unfortunately, the more that I recited that speel, the more that I believed it to be all that there was to know.
Next thing I knew I was 16 and eating so much shit because I just didn’t understand the true repercussions.
I started this blog to help you avoid the pitfalls I fell into when I was younger, and so here is an in-depth description of EXACTLY how Celiac Disease works and EXACTLY how it can ruin your life if you let it.
Forewarning, it does get a bit complex. However, if you want to live a fulfilling life as a Celiac it's information that you need to know.
Why Gluten Fucks You Up
It’s so easy to forget that the plants we grow and consume are living organisms. And, like all living organisms today, they have evolved over time to develop mechanisms to help ensure their survival.
As a result of this evolution, most grains contain toxic proteins known as prolamines.
Prolamines are incredibly difficult to digest in humans and often travel through your entire GI System completely undigested.
One of the most toxic and damaging prolamines we know of is called gliadin and guess where you can find that son of a bitch.
A study released in the Journal of Pediatrics in 2006 narrowed down gliadin as the primary offender in subjects suffering from Symptomatic Celiac disease.
In fact, they found gliadin was such a huge component in the development of Celiac Disease that alternative therapies besides a Gluten-Free Diet could be developed in the next 20 years. (1)
How Exactly Gliadin Works with the Gut
As we mentioned earlier, Gliadin is incredibly difficult to digest and toxic.
When the not-digested gliadin proteins enter the intestines, they trigger the release of a compound known as IL-8 from the intestinal cells. IL-8 triggers the Innate Immune System causing the initial gut inflammation that we are all so familiar with.
If you had Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity the action would stop here. However, for Celiac’s things only get worse.
Think of our intestines as the Night’s Watch in Game of Thrones.
Or, if you are more familiar with Lord of The Rings, The Battle of Helms Deep is a pretty good comparison point as well.
We have an impenetrable wall that we built to keep the bad guys out. Along this wall, we have a series of forts with small openings that allow the good guys to get through the otherwise impenetrable wall.
In our intestines, these walls are the lining of our intestines, and the openings in the wall are called tight junctions. These tight junctions are controlled by a protein known as Zonulin.
Zonulin itself controls the size of the tight junctions in the wall which alters what can and cannot pass through the openings in the wall. In this way, Zonulin acts like the night’s watch.
In Celiac’s, Gliadin communicates with Zonulin causing an increase in Zonulin levels resulting in wider gaps within the gut. (2)
This is the same as blowing a massive hole in The Wall through which the White Walker’s and their army of the dead can just waltz on through.
Gliadin then begins to build up beneath the gut wall, causing toxicity on both sides of your intestinal wall.
At this point, your body enters full-on nuclear war mode and begins sending more antibodies and macrophages in to fight the Gliadin buildup.
With Gliadin both on the outside and inside of your intestinal tissue, your intestines become caught in the crossfire and suffer severe losses.
As your body continues to fight the Gliadin, your intestines begin to break down causing an increase in zonulin, increasing how much gliadin makes it across the cell, increasing the immune response which all goes back to breaking down your intestines even further.
And the Big Kicker?
The gene modification that results in the development of Celiac disease is located on the same allele as the genes related to other autoimmune disorders.
When your body endures Celiac disease, which we just learned is a fuck ton of stress on your system, your genes adapt and become modified which can then result in other autoimmune diseases developing in addition to your current case of Celiac Disease.
So What Do We Do?
Well, that’s a good question. Check out Part 2 and make sure to share with your fellow Celiacs!
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