The Wheat Belly lifestyle that begins with elimination of the worst and most dominant of all grains in the diet, semidwarf wheat products, followed by elimination of its closely-related brethren in other grains, is a powerful start in reversing the 200-some diseases of autoimmunity.
We now know that the gliadin protein of wheat and related proteins in other grains initiate the increased intestinal permeability that begins the process, as highly inflammatory compounds, such as lipopolysaccharide from bacterial cell walls, are permitted entry into the body. We also know that gliadin itself gains entry into the bloodstream and lymph system. Gliadin contains amino acid sequences that (in a peculiar intersection of biology when humans incapable of fully digesting the components of the seeds of grasses try to do so) overlap in structure with human proteins. The synapsin protein of the brain, for instance, overlaps in structure with gliadin. The antibody/immune response launched against gliadin therefore also attacks structures containing synapsin, initiating some of the various forms of autoimmunity of the central nervous system, such as cerebellar ataxia, temporal lobe seizures, and some forms of dementia.
Unfortunately, conventional “treatments” of autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis ignore these data, as well as ignore all the other factors that permit the emergence of autoimmune phenomena, such as vitamin D deficiency and dysbiosis. Here are some of my comments from Wheat Belly Total Health concerning the conventional approach by rheumatologists and other specialists in the diseases of autoimmunity:
The conventional medical approach to autoimmune diseases ignores disturbances of intestinal permeability, molecular mimicry, immunomodulation by vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, composition of bowel flora, exposures to industrial chemicals or metals, and the notion that components of diet can initiate and perpetuate the immune system gone wrong.
Instead, modern healthcare chooses to focus only on turning off the immune responses with drugs. Some treatments are imprecise and non-specific drugs, such as steroids like prednisone, which, by shutting down the entire immune system, also make us susceptible to infections. Other treatments are more specific, such as tumor necrosis factor blockers, Enbrel and Humira. These intravenous agents only work occasionally with incomplete success, are extraordinarily expensive, and are accompanied by the potential for tuberculosis, viral and bacterial infections, liver damage or failure, and activation of viral hepatitis. They even allow other autoimmune diseases to develop—-an imperfect solution, to say the least.
The wonderful thing about addressing the potential contributors to autoimmune processes, such as eliminating grains, restoring vitamin D, and correcting disruptions of bowel flora, is that they help restore health in many ways, not just reductions in inflammation or autoimmunity. Eliminate grains, for instance, and depression can lift, blood sugars drop, visceral fat is lost–and autoimmunity can recede. Raise vitamin D blood levels to 70 ng/ml and your thinking becomes clearer, bone density increases, insulin levels drop–and autoimmunity can recede. And such interventions are safe and inexpensive, costing little compared to the thousands of dollars per month you’d spend for autoimmune drugs.
Take such natural steps appropriate for a species of the non-grass-consuming member of the species Homo sapiens, and allow your immune system to distinguish friend from foe.
The Wheat Belly strategies therefore provide a powerful collection of strategies that 1) prevent autoimmune diseases, 2) reverse many forms of autoimmune diseases, and 3) minimize or eliminate the need for drugs that never address the initiating cause. While these strategies cannot be expected to reverse all instance of autoimmunity, there is no downside and plenty of upside from the broad wave of positive health changes that develop.