The Great Autoimmune Mistake
The process begins in the small intestine where gliadin and related prolamin grain proteins trigger increased permeability of the intestinal lining by causing a physical separation of the “tight junctions” between intestinal cells.
While genetic susceptibility to this effect varies, it affects the majority of people, a phenomenon that has nothing to do with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity (Fasano 2012). When normal intestinal barriers break down, foreign substances are able to penetrate into the bloodstream. Byproducts of the digestion of food, including gliadin and related grain proteins, as well as bacterial byproducts such as lipopolysaccharide, are thereby able to gain entry into the bloodstream and stimulate the immune system and activate lymphocytes, antibody responses, and initiate release of inflammatory mediators such as tumor necrosis factor and interleukins. “Intestinal leak” is therefore a crucial first step that gets the process of misdirected autoimmune inflammation under way, a process initiated by grains.
There is another layer to the story. In a peculiar quirk of nature, the prolamin proteins—the gliadin of wheat, secalin of rye, hordein of barley, the zein of corn—overlap in structure with a number of human proteins: the synapsin protein of the human nervous system; the transglutaminase enzyme found in organs such as the liver, muscle, and brain; the endomysium protein of muscle cells; and calreticulin proteins found in most cells throughout the body (Alaedini 2013; Hadjivassilliou 2008; Karska 1995). It means that an immune response triggered against the grain proteins will also mistakenly result in an immune attack against a protein in the body that contains similar amino acid sequences— autoimmunity.
Intestinal leak followed by misrecognition, all initiated by the proteins of grains and leading to the 200 diseases of autoimmunity: It is a complex process with potentially dire consequences.
The solution: eat no grains.