For thousands of years wheat has been a primary food source for many civilizations. Often referred to as the “staple for mankind”, it has provided nutrients and vitamins in its whole form for generations. Recently, this crop has been blamed for everything from irritable bowel syndrome to sinus conditions and thus has been removed from the daily dietary regime of many people. If mankind has survived for thousands of years on this and other grains, why then have humans, within the last century, become so un-adaptive to its makeup?
Wheat is high in gluten, which consists of several plant proteins, one of which is called gliadins. Most all adverse health conditions arise from an abnormal response to this protein, especially the alpha gliadin group. This group of proteins fall into the category of prolamins which are characterized by their high proline and glutamine make up. Since prolamins are broken down primarily by esters, the absence or intestinal diminishment of the short-chain fatty acid butyrate can play a significant role in how gliadins are metabolically degraded effectively.
Butyrate is the primary energy source of the colonic epithelial cells which line the colon. Butyrate is produced as a fermentive biological end process of anaerobic bacteria found within the intestinal tract. The proportional amounts of short-chain fatty acids such as butyrate and acetate generally indicate the overall status of intestinal metabolism. If the intestinal bacterial status has been compromised in any way, the ester output consequently diminishes. This essentially translates into the inappropriate breakdown of the prolamin component in grains. When this protein is left in a complex or unmetabolized state, defects begin to arise in the intestinal mucosa and villi. This signals the secretion of the antibodies IgM and IgA into the bowel lumen which indicates an abnormal immunological response to the gliadin proteins. It also contributes to the inflammatory condition noted with allergies.
Another contributing factor to wheat allergies is a pancreatic insufficiency regarding either the secretion or synthesis of the enzyme amylase. Amylase requires the calcium ion to function. It is important to recognize that the ion form of calcium differs entirely from the calcium salt form (which is found in most all supplements as well as dairy products). Taking calcium supplements or using dairy products generally interferes with the ionic form of calcium due to what is referred to as the electrophoresis influence. Once this is established, the ionic calcium bonds to the calcium salt(s) and therefore become biochemically absent, shunting the priority functions of amylase. This is one of the many reasons why calcium supplements are ill advised, in general, for health.
The role of amylase is to break down primary starches into the simpler forms of sugars. The substrates which make up amylase are other basic sugar links, and its metaloprotein component. It is the metaloprotein, or metaloenzyme factor of amylase which is influenced abruptly by the calcium form.
Celiac disease, Tropical sprue and Crohn’s disease are some typical examples of health conditions provoked by cereal proteins and abstinence of these food products is often highly recommended. What can occur in this grain elimination process is a malnourishment of essential co-factors and if this is not recognized then other serious health complications may arise.
Of interest regarding the malabsorption syndromes is the evidence of an infection status by a mycobacterium which could very well be a contributing factor to these intestinal diseases. This bacterium, known as mycobacterium paratuberculosis, is generally found in dairy products and can survive pasteurization.
Allergies induced by grain proteins are usually the indications of deficiencies within the alimentary tract. These deficiencies may range from a low pro-biotic environment, under active parietal cell condition or an inadequate ion level. These deficiencies can arise from excesses, such as stress, medications and from the consumption of wrong foods (dairy products).
Our digestive system, when functioning correctly, has several capacities from rendering a sterile environment which prevents most pathogenic factors from infiltration, maintaining adequate nutritional absorption capacity and correct electrolyte re-absorption.
Perhaps it is best to observe what we deprive ourselves of when we embark on elimination diets, which focus on whole foods; foods which have been and are still somewhat (rapidly disappearing however) the primary staples for mankind and mankind’s good health.
- By Kevin Meehan