Category: Science

What You Need to Know about Gut Bacteria and Autoimmunity

We are just beginning to gain an understanding as to the mechanisms underlying the role of gluten in inducing autoimmune diseases like type I diabetes. Much of our understanding stems from the landmark publication by Harvard’s Dr. Alessio Fasano in which he provided and in-depth and comprehensive understanding of the role of the intestinal barrier in terms of regulating inflammation as well as autoimmunity. Fundamental to his thesis is the effect of gliadin, a component of gluten, on the integrity of the gut wall.

What Dr. Fasano demonstrated was how gliadin induces the mobilization of another protein, zonulin, and how zonulin then goes on to increase the permeability of the bowel. It is this increase in permeability that is playing a pivotal role in challenging the immune system, and leading to inflammation as well as autoimmunity.

Subsequent to Dr. Fasano’s publication, researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester Minnesota published exciting research that demonstrated a dramatic reduction in development of type I diabetes in laboratory mice if they were raised on a gluten-free diet. While it is reasonable to assume that the preservation of gut integrity by not challenging it with gluten may have been responsible, the authors explored another intriguing possibility. What they found was that when these animals were placed on a gluten-free diet there was actually a significant change in the various species of gut bacteria in the animals tested.

Their conclusion stated:

Our novel study does suggest that dietary gluten could modulate the incidence of type I diabetes by changing the microbiome.

This is a very intriguing bit of information, as it correlates an autoimmune condition (type I diabetes) with changes in the gut bacteria.

We are now seeing a fairly dramatic increase in the incidence of various autoimmune conditions, including type I diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and systemic lupus erythematosus. This new research suggests that, if changes in gut bacteria pave the way for autoimmunity, then we have to ask ourselves, what environmental changes are bringing this about?

The human microbiome is sensitive to a variety of environmental factors including food choices, antibiotic usage, other medications, including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and even exposure to glyphosate, an herbicide now almost ubiquitous in agricultural products. The point is, when we alter the balance of bacteria that live within us, we set the stage for our most dreaded diseases, many of which did not have readily available pharmaceutical fixes.

  • Boundless

    The title of this post really needed to be:

    Attention Parents and Parents-to-Be:
    A Gluten-Free Diet Reduced the Development of T1D in Lab Mice

    “Diabetes” is an ambiguous term.
    It is important to state T1D and/or T2D early and prominently.

    Anyone paying attention already knows that T2D is a totally optional ailment, an almost completely predictable metabolic response to a full-time moderate to high-glycemic diet. T2D is trivially avoided with diet, fully reversible with diet at metabolic syndrome and pre-diabetic stages, and reversible with diet after that to the extent that the complications caused by T2D are reversible.

    T1D is a whole separate ailment, which needs primarily to be avoided, as remission is rare and no cures are on the horizon. Dr. Davis has reported on a couple of anecdotal cases of remission with removal of gluten-bearing grains. The present report sheds some light on why this might happen.

    For some reason, parents of T1D kids often don’t want to hear about diet, but they need to. Whether they opt for management by ketogenic diet or meds, they need to get the kid off gluten-bearing grains (and off the sugars and other hi-gly carbs, of course) immediately.

    T1D is rising. People need to ask why. Something has changed over the last few decades, and it’s not the victims.

    • Scupperer

      Actually, T2D is an amyloid disease, likely caused by gluten misfolding proteins (into amyloids, also known as prion proteins). The poor glycemic response is caused by the inflammation of the amyloids, preventing a proper insulin balance in the blood stream. Yes, you can slow the advance of T2D by eating a low-glycemic diet and maintaining a high level of exercise, but without removing the source of inflammation and amyloid production (gluten, for most), the disease will always progress. So, unless you’re fully aware of what’s actually causing T2D, it’s not a “totally optional” ailment.

      • Boundless

        This just in on T2D:
        “Dietary Carbohydrate restriction as the first approach in diabetes management. Critical review and evidence base”
        http://www.nutritionjrnl.com/article/S0899-9007%2814%2900332-3/fulltext

        • Guest

          Wheat proteins create amyloids:
          Peptide Mixtures Can Self-Assemble into Large Amyloid Fibers of Varying Size and Morphology
          Wheat proteins create more amyloids:
          The Role of Protein Hydrophobicity in Conformation Change and Self-Assembly into Large Amyloid Fibers
          Wheat proteins spur insulin resistance and pancreatic hyperactivity:
          Gliadin fragments and a specific gliadin 33-mer peptide close KATP channels and induce insulin secretion in INS-1E cells and rat islets of langerhans.
          Wheat makes mice fat:
          Gluten-free diet reduces adiposity, inflammation and insulin resistance
          Celiac Sprue contains amyloids proteins found in other illnesses:
          Parallels between Pathogens and Gluten Peptides in Celiac Sprue

          Carbohydrate and sugar restriction is only necessary because of what wheat does to other foods during digestion/energy distribution: gliadin peptides producing amyloids. Cut out just the gluten, the other carbohydrates can stay.

  • Jill B

    I’ve asked two of my doctors to do the gluten sensitivity cyrex array 3 test on me, and they say they either don’t know how to get the kit to wont do it as they think this gluten scare is silly. How can I get this test done? I do have a prescription for it, but that’s it.

    • Boundless

      > … cyrex array 3 test …

      Can I ask why you need it?

      Some people do (like kids who are inmates of government schools and need some defense against the toxic USDA diets forced on them, or elderly about to enter assisted living, who need a piece of paper to ward off the facility’s deadly dietitian).

      But for most people, just assume that you will test positive, and implement the cure: zero out consumption of gluten-bearing grains.

      We have an adult family member adversely reactive to wheat, confirmed by unintentional challenge testing. We have no plans to get celiac or CA3 testing. The results would be interesting, but would themselves result in no change in diet.

    • Christine

      I just removed wheat and other grains from my diet for 2 weeks and then had a big bowl of spaghetti to determine if I was wheat intolerant. That was all that was needed.

      • David Perlmutter

        Many who try that report the same findings Christine.

    • Jill S

      If you have a prescription, can’t you go to the local lab where they draw blood for the doctors’ ordered tests? I was diagnosed with celiac after a biopsy and bloodwork. My kids were told to get bloodwork and they went and got the tests without a problem. My son went to health dept. at school and my daughter to a local lab.

  • Lynn Dell

    Dr. Perlmutter, after hearing Dr. Fassano’s intriguing lectures a couple weeks ago, I started pondering his point on the human genome being augmented by its interaction with the the gut microbe genomes.

    The body has no need for carbohydrates is something I have taken to heart, and as far as my fasting glucose goes, I agree. But it is coming to my thinking that our gazillion little friends in the gut need certain types of carbohydrates in order to proliferate and “be there” for our benefit. So, indirectly, it seems to me our bodies do require carbohydrates. I am not sure which types they are, and do not much understand the concept of resistant starches such as inulin, but it seems to me I need to “respect the genome” of the gut flora by providing them the kind of carbs they need.

    My plan is to see which carbs are the most helpful to the gut, and to have those as my carb intake. And to keep my carb intake low at the same time. And to continue to watch my blood sugars, and perhaps raise the carbs that some claim are helpful to the gut, and stop at the level where my blood glucose starts to rise.

    • Beulah health

      The food they need is called resistant starch. You find this in potatoes, sweet potatoes, vegetables and legumes. It feeds the bacteria and ultimatly produces a type of fatty acid that feeds your large intestine’s cells. It’s win win! My family and i subscribe to a primarily carb free diet, only fibrouse vegetables as our source of carbs, and a few times a week i will serve a small portion of blue potatoes or other starch heavy veggies. Always with the skin and always with copious amounds of fiber.

      • Lynn Dell

        Thanks. Just as the concept of “good calories, bad calories” is out there, there is a need to apply this same distinction to carbohydrates. Dr. Davis has a recent entry on this subject on his blog. My desire is to eventually only take probiotics and probiotics from foods, and to supplement with capsules of such only on a needed basis.

  • rmoorefit

    I’m now gluten free but and I have committed to grain free 100%. It was a rare occasion but I did endulge every now and then. I am starting a 21 day all vegetable, fruit and hemp protein detox and hoping to get rid of psorisis. This disease started on my neck now on my face and eyelids. I am determined to get rid of this. Please tell me it is reversible.

    • AmberReign

      I have tried EVERY thing under the sun to heal my psoriasis. Eliminated sugar, eliminated gluten, eliminated sulfates, pthalates, parabens, went completely all natural skin care products, eat organic about 75% of the time, UV light therapy, juice fasts, Master Cleanse, the slippery elm and saw palmetto tea regimen, nothing has worked. I am now very happily on my 3rd month of psoriasis free, healthy clear skin, no redness, no itching, seriously, all you can see now is a few scars from where it used to be! The miracle worker for me has been Zija Supermix. It’s a life changer. I started seeing results after 2 weeks taking it. It’s a nutritional supplement. Please look into and good luck.

  • AnnaMarie Shirey

    My doctor wanted to medicate the symptoms. I wanted to get to the root of my problems and did not accept the medication. After a little research I felt it was wise to do an elimination diet. After 2 months of zero gluten all my symptoms are gone. Including anemia. Hallelujah! I have a question. What is the best way to replace the nutrients that grain provides in the diet?

  • Shelly

    I just had my blood work done yesterday and my platelets were 580,000. Do you have any tips for lowering platelet levels?

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