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Gluten sensitivity is real, serious and I hope you’re paying attention.
I’m not just trying to scare you with such a dramatic headline. No. The truth is I’m trying to save your life by sharing with you science-backed information about what gluten may be doing to your body even if you have no symptoms.
Before I tell you more about why gluten sensitivity should be taken seriously, I have to tell you that this blog post is heavily influenced by an old podcast from Underground Wellness Radio (which unfortunately finished its run last year).
I may have been slow to discover Underground Wellness Radio, but I am LOVING listening to old episodes. They are still very relevant and enlightening to me as a holistic nutrition practitioner.
Episode #340 features an interview with Dr. Tom O’Bryan, one of the leading gluten sensitivity researchers in the world. When I saw Dr. O’Bryan’s name attached to the podcast, I knew I had to tune in for a listen.
While I feel like I know a lot about celiac disease, the gluten-free diet and gluten research in general, Dr. O’Bryan has taken my knowledge and understanding to a whole new level. (UPDATE: Dr. Tom O’Bryan has finally published a book called The Autoimmune Fix. I highly recommend it for anyone with celiac disease, autoimmune disease or gluten sensitivity.)
Let’s dive in…
Wait, Gluten is Toxic to All Humans?
Yes, it is according to Dr. O’Bryan and backed by science.
Dr. O’Bryan calls gluten the “silent killer” that brews in your body, making it ripe for disease. Unfortunately people don’t pay attention until the damage is done, their organs are destroyed and they’ve already been diagnosed with celiac disease or other life-threatening diseases.
He says that when someone eats wheat, long-term damage accrues in their bodies and it will eventually catch up to them in the form of Alzheimer’s, congestive heart failure or other devastating autoimmune diseases.
Dr. O’Bryan discusses, in detail, a study conducted by the leading celiac researcher in the world, Dr. Alessio Fasano. Dr. Fasano’s team looked at four strains of wheat including two hybrid strains most commonly used in the U.S and two ancient strains.
They also looked at four different subsets of people:
- Recently diagnosed celiacs
- Celiacs on a gluten-free diet for at least one year
- People with non-celiac gluten sensitivity
- People who had no problem with gluten
The researchers found that ALL four groups had the genes activated for intestinal permeability when exposed to wheat. In other words, all of the study’s subjects that were exposed to wheat, regardless if they were on the gluten spectrum or not, showed signs of damage to their intestines after eating wheat.
“Every human, when they eat gluten, they activate the genes for intestinal permeability,” he says, and adds that “gluten is toxic to all humans.”
Don’t believe me? Read the study here. I had to look it up to believe it myself!
Just Because You Don’t Feel Sick Doesn’t Mean You Don’t Have a Gluten Sensitivity
Dr. O’Bryan says that just because you don’t feel sick when you eat gluten, doesn’t mean you don’t have a gluten sensitivity, nor does it mean that gluten isn’t slowly destroying cells in your body.
“It doesn’t matter how you feel. You cannot determine whether or not a food is good for you based on how you feel when you eat it. Unless you feel bad, that’s obvious it’s bad for you. If you don’t feel bad, it doesn’t mean it’s OK for you,” he says.
Elimination diets, he says, are not enough to know, for sure, if you have a gluten sensitivity.
Who Should Get Tested for Gluten Sensitivity? How?
Dr. O’Bryan is adamant that anyone with a family history of gluten sensitivity, autoimmune diseases (any type of autoimmune disease) or anyone who feels tired, sluggish and chronically sick should get a blood test for a gluten sensitivity. He recommends Cyrex Labs for comprehensive gluten sensitivity testing, as this test screens for a reaction to 10 peptides found in gluten, not just one.
Talk to your doctor about getting tested and tell them about Cyrex Labs to ensure you get the most comprehensive gluten sensitivity test available. (Remember, doctors don’t know about testing options for gluten sensitivity – be adamant about this testing request to ensure you get it right the first time.) You can learn more about this test in this article.
Getting tested is the only true way to know if you have gluten sensitivity. When people eliminate gluten from their diets, they might also be eliminating processed foods, added sugars, food dyes, etc. – that’s why the only way to know for sure if you’re gluten intolerant is to get the test.
There are also several at-home food sensitivity tests available. They do not test for a gluten sensitivity, per se, but they might give you a few insights into what might be happening inside your body.
If you suspect you have a food sensitivity, getting a test can be a good starting point and should be followed by an elimination diet. The at-home food sensitivity test I tried myself is by Everlywell, and it tests your reaction to 96 commonly found foods in the Western diet. I don’t endorse or work for Everlywell but I am a health partner and affiliate. (Read this article to find out how you can get 10% a food sensitivity test at Everlywell.)
What Happens When You “Cheat” and Eat Gluten?
Did you know that every three to seven days your old intestinal lining sheds and then you get a new lining? Fascinating, right?
Dr. O’Bryan says that every time anyone – not just someone with a gluten sensitivity – eats gluten, it tears their intestinal lining. The lining will heal and restore itself, but over time, after being overworked day after day, meal after meal, your body just can’t handle it anymore and it begins to show signs of continuous abuse. That’s when disease begins to rear its ugly head.
While gluten is the main focus of Dr. O’Bryan’s work, he says many foods can lead to intestinal permeability including glyphosate residue, which is found in genetically modified foods sprayed with this toxic chemical. Other foods can cause damage your intestinal lining too, especially if you have a sensitivity to it, but the only one that we know is a “slam dunk” every time is gluten, he concurs.
Is the “Gluten Movement” Just a Fad?
Dr. O’Bryan says, with confidence, that the “gluten movement” is not going away, and that things will only get worse and “more pronounced.” There’s just too much science as to what is happening with gluten in our bodies for gluten movement to fade out without a fight.
Once the mainstream science catches up to what Dr. O’Bryan and others in the gluten sensitivity research field, we are going to have an epidemic and a disease that doctors and the general public will finally take more seriously because their lives depend on it.
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