Gliadin: The Universal Human Poison

Autoimmunity is the process describing an immune response waged against our own organs. The complex collection of mechanisms consisting of T and B lymphocytes, antibodies, and others, meant to provide protection against viruses, bacteria, and other body invaders, is misdirected against proteins of the body’s organs, such as liver, pancreas, thyroid, or brain. Autoimmune conditions now affect 8% of the American population–it is increasingly looking like diseases of autoimmunity are out of control.

Dr Alessio Fasano was recently awarded the Linus Pauling Award, the highest award from the Institute for Functional Medicine, for his pioneering work on deciphering the role of the gliadin protein of wheat in triggering disruption of the normal intestinal barriers, a process that appears to underlie an astounding proportion of autoimmune conditions.

Dr. Fasano’s research has demonstrated that, in the presence of gliadin, foreign substances are permitted entry into the bloodstream, substances that ordinarily should have remained confined within the intestinal tract. Increased intestinal permeability is signaled by increased blood levels of the protein, zonulin. Increased zonulin levels have been found in type 1 diabetes and celiac disease. Interestingly, while zonulin levels are the highest in people with celiac disease, zonulin levels are increased in the majority of people without celiac disease. This may explain why, although people with celiac disease are at high risk for various autoimmune diseases, people without celiac disease can also develop autoimmunity (determined, in part, by haptoglobin 2 genotype).

The list of autoimmune conditions that have been associated with wheat, thereby gliadin, consumption is formidable:

Alopecia areata
Ankylosing spondylitis
Antiphospholipid syndrome (APS)
Autoimmune angioedema
Autoimmune aplastic anemia
Autoimmune dysautonomia
Autoimmune hepatitis
Autoimmune immunodeficiency
Autoimmune inner ear disease (AIED)
Autoimmune myocarditis
Autoimmune oophoritis
Autoimmune pancreatitis
Autoimmune retinopathy
Autoimmune thrombocytopenic purpura (ATP)
Autoimmune thyroid disease
Autoimmune urticaria
Axonal & neuronal neuropathies
Cafe au lait
Celiac disease
Cerebellar ataxia
Chronic fatigue syndrome
Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP)
Crohn’s disease
Demyelinating neuropathies
Dermatitis herpetiformis
Eosinophilic esophagitis
Eosinophilic fasciitis
Erythema nodosum
Giant cell arteritis (temporal arteritis)
Gluten encephalopathy
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
Hemolytic anemia
Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP)
IgA nephropathy
Interstitial cystitis
Juvenile arthritis
Lupus (SLE)
Meniere’s disease
Mixed connective tissue disease (MCTD)
Multiple sclerosis
Optic neuritis
Paraneoplastic cerebellar degeneration
Paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH)
Peripheral neuropathy
Pernicious anemia
Polyarteritis nodosa
Polymyalgia rheumatica
Primary biliary cirrhosis
Primary sclerosing cholangitis
Psoriatic arthritis
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis
Pyoderma gangrenosum
Raynauds phenomenon
Reactive Arthritis
Reflex sympathetic dystrophy
Relapsing polychondritis
Restless legs syndrome
Retroperitoneal fibrosis
Rheumatoid arthritis
Sjogren’s syndrome
Sperm & testicular autoimmunity
Transverse myelitis
Type 1 diabetes
Ulcerative colitis

Yes, “healthy whole grain” consumption is accompanied by risk for an astounding variety of autoimmune diseases, some just a nuisance (such as vitiligo or cafe au lait), some disfiguring or debilitating (such as psoriasis or cerebellar ataxia), some rapidly fatal (gluten encephalopathy, transverse myelitis, type 1 diabetes without insulin).

You think any of this is factored in when we are advised to consume plenty of “healthy whole grains”?

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55 Responses to Gliadin: The Universal Human Poison

  1. Deb says:

    One of the auto immune diseases listed about against wheat is Type 1 Diabetes – does this people who have been on insulin since childhood could get off the insulin with a total wheat elimination?

    • Boundless says:

      > Type 1 Diabetes – does this people who have been on
      > insulin since childhood could get off the insulin with
      > a total wheat elimination?

      For one of the Doctor D’s more provocative articles, see:

      There are T1D sufferers who manage their condition primarily by diet (nutritional ketosis), with minimal or no insulin.

      Eliminating gluten-bearing grains is an obvious “why not” step. Even Dr. Bernstein (“The Diabetes Solution”), alas, doesn’t seem to be aware of the peculiar hazards of these grains.

      Then we have the open question of what triggers T1D. Perhaps eliminating wheat for a couple of generations, in an adequate statistical population sample, might provide some hints.

      • Barbara in New Jersey says:

        I seem to remember some articles about diary products being an allergen and triggering type 1 in children. This was during the 1960′s when certified raw milk was banned. The idea was that pasteurization killed many of the beneficial bacteria which left a product that children easily developed allergic reactions from.
        They weren’t allergic to breast milk, raw milk, goats milk, only pasteurized cows milk caused distress and then diabetes 1.

        Now, we have ultra pasteurized milk (that means it is boiled (212*F to 230*F) which increases shelf life. Even more of the good bacteria is boiled away so the profit margin increases. Doesn’t even taste like milk anymore.

        • Neicee says:

          Hi Barbara in New Jersey, I have a question….If the info you noted about milk/dairy products is true, what happens when we use them for cooked recipes like chowders/creamed soups, desserts, etc.? I very often purchase way too much and it will spoil before I can get rid of it so I use them up in cooked dishes. I’ve not seen nor read anything addressing that issue?

          • Barbara in New Jersey says:


            Most recipes for using dairy products are cooked below boiling point. You want it to thicken, just like eggs, and not be boiled which changes the taste.

            I freeze milk when I can’t use it up before it sours. When I travel, I freeze any left over right in the container, taking it out and placing it in the refrigerator to defrost when I get home which is usually late at night. It is defrosted and ready for my coffee in the morning!

            Perhaps there is a chemist who reads this blog and can contribute more scientific information.

            I grew up on certified raw milk and remember the change in taste when the State of NJ decided to make it illegal. Pasteurized milk still tastes like a processed milk drink to me. I do like the taste of cheeses like Red Witch that are made from raw milk.

  2. Amy says:

    What about Hidradenitis Supprativa?

    • Barbara in New Jersey says:


      Any condition that causes blocked glands and their secretions seems to improve with a grain and sugar free diet.
      This way of eating reduces inflammation everywhere and helps your cells to normalize. You certainly have nothing to lose and everything to gain by eating this way.

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