Wheat & Gluten– Why we have done away with them, while one is fighting Viral Infections?
By Prithu Nath
Wheat, Barley, Rye are necessary Grains for maintainance of a Healthy Gut Microbiome but when one is fighting a Viral Infection these can be done away with in totality for a few Days. Please read on to understand why and what wheat variety to have, when one is healthy………
We do not have enzymes to break down the Gluten contained in Wheat, Barley and Rye. Our Body and our Immune system go in a reaction mode by perceiving gluten as a Pathogen thereby closing the Intestinal walls and this is the reason that Gluten intake causes a deficiency of Minerals, Vitamins and Zinc in people. Zinc, Vitamins and Minerals Play a very important role when one is trying to get past Viral Infections and their deficiency must be curtailed.
In Sanjivni Amrit Regime we have done away with Wheat and Wheat Products and other GLuten containing grains like Rye and Barley during the first Five Days but increased the intake of Ghee which not only helps to heal the Gut Microbiome but also provides Butyric Acid and CLA and a protective layer to heal a Leaky Gut. Besides we have used certain herbs in Sanjivni Amrit Regime that provide Butyrate and Probiotics that help to heal Gut Disbyosis.
Although Gluten is known to Promote certain Probiotics essential in maintining a Healthy Gut but the lack of availability of Non Hybrid Wheat for most people and the problem of high Insulin Levels, insulin resistance, High Blood Glucose levels, Bloating, Leaky Gut syndrome has prompted us to do away with Foods specially wheat that cause a high Insulin and High Immune Response after Ingestion. We have Compensated this with Butyrate Producing Herbs and Ghee that provides the much needed Butyric acid and CLA.
Intestinal Transit Time has to be reduced as constipation is known to reduce Immunity and plays a very important role in reducing the intake of excess fluids from food that has been ingested and a lower gluten intake reduces inflamation and the Ghee compensates by creating a protective Lining in the Gut . The Herbs help the food to move more quickly which results in a healthier clearance.
While we are sick or during this Covid Pandemic we want our Immune system to be functioning at it’s best and that it should not be overly busy in our Gut, because if we eat Junk and disrupt our Gut Microbiome and create conditions leading to a Leaky Gut our Immune system will be busy in our Gut rather than where it is more needed !
Human beings are superorganisms or holobionts (i.e., hosts with associated life forms) that have evolved over millions of years collectively as a unit, yet independently . From all microbial niches in the body, the digestive tract has received the mostattention in part due to its role in health and immunity . Many different host-associated (e.g., age, sex, health status) and environmental factors are known to affect the composition of the gut microbiota but growing evidence suggests that diet is one of the main contributors [3,4,5].
The gut microbiome plays a key role in a Person’s defense mechanisms against pathogens and is also involved in the maturation, maintenance and function of the mucosal immune system. The microbiome is a highly complex entity that exhibits many redundant functions and is capable of evolving in response to genetic and environmental factors.
The gut microbiota consists of the numerous microorganisms that live in our gut. It has been shown that the gut microbiota is key to protecting our gut against pathogens, and that it has the ability to make and regulate molecules going into the blood.
Also, the microbiota has the ability to process molecules that the host does not have the capacity to process. For example, the microbiota can metabolize carbohydrates that the host cannot digest, and produce vitamins that the host cannot.
The human intestinal tract harbors a collection of beneficial bacteria (symbionts/mutualists) that perform an array of functions, including the provision of attributes not encoded in the human genome.1 This ecosystem is greatly influenced by the diet, which constitutes a major environmental factor driving bacterial diversity.2,3 Therefore, long-term dietary practices for treating food-related diseases might affect the composition of the resident microbiota and, thereby, its functional relationships with diverse host organs and tissues. In particular, intestinal bacteria constitute a constant challenge of antigens to their host that modulate mucosal immunity and the primary line of defence against antigens acquired orally.
Intestinal dysbiosis is a hallmark of several immune disorders, including celiac disease. Increased levels of pathobionts may activate the proinflammatory pathways that trigger a breakdown in gluten tolerance and promote disease onset. This, in turn, further drives the gut microbial community towards a state of dysbiosis, resulting in a vicious circle that disrupts the host-microbiota homeostatic balance.
Many people assume that the way to go forward is with a Gluten Free Diet or GFD because they presume that Gluten disrupts the Gut Microbiome! But they have been led to this conclusion by the Fashionable Dieticians of this Era who have disregarded in totality of what our ancestors did and their ways !
Notably, the gluten-free diet also reduced cytokine production by cultured blood immune cells when exposed to fecal samples. In particular, the gluten-free diet reduced production of pro-inflammatory cytokines TNFα, IFN–γ, and IL-8: low levels of butyrate-producing Firmicutes and Bifidobacterium are found in IBS and are negatively associated with IBS symptoms.36,37
A GFD Diet is recommended for all people (which includes without saying , those suffering from Celiac Disease or other Gluten Induced or Wheat allergies or Auto Immune Disorders) only if one is consuming the Flour from the Hybrid Wheat Varieties, which have been modified for a higher yield and a higher Gluten Content that suits the bakery industry !
But if you get hold of flour from one of the traditional Non Hybrid Wheat varieties, then you must consume some Wheat Flour. A GFD diet is otherwise known to reduce the Probiotics or Good Bacteria in healthy individuals. This advise is for those who do not suffer from any form of Wheat Allergies or Diabetes or Celiac disease or Auto Immune Disorders.
A simple test is to see, if one feels tired or acidic or heavy or bloated or feels overly full after consuming consuming wheat ! One must feel light and cool and non bloated after consuming their Bread and this is the main difference when a hybrid Wheat variety is consumed as compared to a Non Hybrid Traditional wheat Variety like Amrit Moti.
Another result of consuming Hybrid wheat Products is the Blood Glucose Spike resulting in an Insulin Spike in our blood after consuming a Hybrid Wheat Product as it’s Glycaemic index is much higher than the traditional varieties. As a comparison the Hybrid varieties have a GI of about 89 as compared to 55 for the Non Hybrid Amrit Moti Varieties.
High Insulin Levels are known to make our Immune System sluggish and that is what one needs to avoid during the time one is either trying to be super fit for warding off Covid and other viral infections or if one has been infected with Covid and is trying the fight it off !
Wheat germ agglutinin provokes a systemic immune response
Another potential culprit for adverse reactions to wheat is a lectin called wheat germ agglutinin (WGA). Lectins are proteins found in a wide variety of plants and are widely recognized as anti-nutrients; they can bind to virtually all cell types and, in large enough quantities, potentially cause damage to organs. Even very small concentrations of WGA have been shown to impair the integrity of the intestinal barrier,29 and several uptake mechanisms allow transport of this lectin into the periphery where it can potentially damage other cells.
Feeding large amounts of WGA to mice has been shown to cause abnormal growth of the small intestine and pancreas and atrophy of the thymus, an important immune organ.30 In cell culture studies, WGA also stimulates histamine secretion and degranulation of mast cells, and the release of inflammatory cytokines from several different types of immune cells.31 Unfortunately, no studies have assessed the effects of WGA ingestion in humans; however, antibodies to WGA have been detected in the blood of healthy individuals, suggesting that their ingestion provokes a systemic immune response.32
Amylase trypsin inhibitors increases release of Inflammatory molecules
Some researchers have suggested that wheat amylase trypsin inhibitors (ATIs) could also play a role in gluten-related disorders. ATIs are proteins in plants that support the natural defense against predators and pests. They may also regulate starch metabolism during seed formation and germination.
ATIs are strong activators of several different types of immune cells, including dendritic cells, macrophages, and monocytes, stimulating the classical NF-kB inflammatory pathway and the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines.27 Gluten-containing staples like bread and pastries have as much as 100-fold higher levels of innate immune system-activating ATIs than most gluten-free foods. Interestingly, older wheat variants, like Emmer or Einkorn wheat, have much lower ATI activity than modern wheat varieties.28
Currently, there are no studies that have assessed the effects of ATIs in humans. However, a group of German researchers fed mice ATIs isolated from wheat and found that it increased the release of inflammatory molecules in the small and large intestine and activated immune cells in the gut and mesenteric lymph nodes.28
Other wheat proteins
While gluten receives the most attention, other proteins in wheat may be just as problematic. Wheat can be broken down into hundreds of different compounds, many of which can cause inflammatory immune responses. These include beta-, gamma-, and omega-gliadin, deamidated gliadin, glutenin, gluteomorphin, and prodynorphin.
Research by Lambert et al. have shown that patients with antibodies against these proteins in wheat often have cross-reactivity with tissues – in other words, these antibodies can cause autoimmune damage to the body. If these patients are not properly tested, told that they don’t have CD and that they can eat gluten in moderation, they may do irreversible damage to organs and put themselves at risk for a whole host of very serious autoimmune diseases. More on that later.
The Relation between Gluten and Our Gut Microbiome
Indeed, in healthy subjects, GFD causes the depletion of beneficial species, e.g., Bifidobacteria, in favour of opportunistic pathogens, e.g., Enterobacteriaceae and Escherichia coli. Conversely, in CD and NCG/WS, GFD evoked a positive effect on gastrointestinal symptoms by helping to restore the microbiota population and by lowering pro-inflammatory species. In conclusion, these studies shed light on the complex interactions occurring between diet, gut barrier and gut microbiota.
Difference between the Hybrid & Traditional Wheat
Traditional Wheat that is non hybrid always has a lower per Acre Yield, has a smaller Grain Size thereby having more Fiber and Lesser Gluten Content. Also the Grass Size is about 4 to 4.5 feet in height as compared to the Hybrid varieties that are about 18 inches in Height.
The Hybrid Varieties need Pesticides plus need Nitrogen Fertilizers for Growth.
Wheat raises blood sugar levels, causes immunoreactive problems, inhibits the absorption of important minerals and aggravates our intestines.
And much of this may stem from the fact that wheat simply ain’t what it used to be.
Hybridized Wheat Indeed, today’s wheat is a far cry from what it was 50 years ago. Back in the 1950s, scientists began cross-breeding wheat to make it hardier, shorter, and better-growing. This work, which was the basis for the Green Revolution – and one that won U.S. plant scientist Norman Borlaug the Nobel Prize – introduced some compounds to wheat that aren’t entirely human friendly.
Gluten and Gliadin No doubt, gluten is a growing concern – and it’s starting to have a serious impact on our health, and as a result, our dietary choices. Gluten is a protein composite of gliadin and glutenin that appears in wheat as well as other grains like rye, barley, and spelt. It’s also what gives certain foods that wonderful, chewy texture. Gluten also helps dough to rise and keep its shape.
The problem, however, is in how it’s metabolized. According to Alessio Fasano, the Medical Director for The University of Maryland’s Center for Celiac Research, no one can properly digest gluten.
“We do not have the enzymes to break it down,” he said in a recent interview with TenderFoodie. “It all depends upon how well our intestinal walls close after we ingest it and how our immune system reacts to it.” His concern is that the gluten protein, which is abundant in the endosperm of barley, rye, and wheat kernels, is setting off an aberrant immune response.
Specifically, the gliadin and glutenin are acting as immunogenic anti-nutrients. Unlike fruits, which are meant to be eaten, grains have a way of fighting back. They create an immunogenic response which increases intestinal permeability, thus triggering systemic inflammation by the immune system, what can lead to any number of autoimmune diseases, including celiac, rheumatoid arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome and so on. And this holds true for people who don’t have celiac disease.
Davis also believes that gliadin degrades to a morphine-like compound after eating, what creates an appetite for more wheat; his claim, therefore, is that wheat actually has an addictive quality to it.
Gliadin, what scientists call the “toxic fraction of gluten,” has also been implicated in gut permeability. When someone has an adverse reaction, it’s because gliadin cross talks with our cells – what causes confusion and a leak in the small intestines. Fasano explains:
Gliadin is a strange protein that our enzymes can’t break down from the amino acids (glutamine and proline) into elements small enough for us to digest. Our enzymes can only break down the gliadin into peptides. Peptides are too large to be absorbed properly through the small intestine. Our intestinal walls or gates, then, have to separate in order to let the larger peptide through. The immune system sees the peptide as an enemy and begins to attack.
The difference is that in a normal person, the intestinal walls close back up, the small intestine becomes normal again, and the peptides remain in the intestinal tract and are simply excreted before the immune system notices them. In a person who reacts to gluten, the walls stay open as long as you are consuming gluten. How your body reacts (with a gluten sensitivity, wheat allergy or Celiac Disease) depends upon how long the gates stay open, the number of “enemies” let through and the number of soldiers that our immune system sends to defend our bodies.
Could gluten sensitivity be gut dysbiosis?
In a review published in 2017, Leccioli et al. pieced together recent evidence into a new proposed mechanism for the development of NCG/WS. They hypothesize that the root cause of NCG/WS is gut dysbiosis, particularly characterized by reduced numbers of Firmicutes and Bifidobacterium, leading to low levels of butyrate in the gut and increased intestinal permeability.
The Firmicutes phylum includes many known butyrate-producing microbes, including Faecalibacterium prausnitzii, Eubacterium rectale, and Roseburia spp. These microbes are typically detected in healthy adult fecal samples at about 2-15 percent relative abundance compared to total bacteria, but are likely even more prevalent in the gut mucus layer.34
Bifidobacterium, a genus belonging to the phylum Actinobacteria, contribute to gut butyrate production by producing acetate and lactate. Butyrate-producing Firmicutes then convert these molecules to butyrate by cross-feeding interactions. (It’s important to note, however, that many non-Western populations do not appear to have significant amounts of Bifidobacterium, yet produce plenty of butyrate.35)
Unfortunately, few studies have assessed the fecal microbiota of NCG/WS patients, but low levels of butyrate-producing Firmicutes and Bifidobacterium are found in IBS and are negatively associated with IBS symptoms.36,37
If the researchers’ hypothesis is true and NCG/WS is caused by low levels of these microbes, this suggests that NCG/WS is transient and treatable, related to the overall quality of the diet and health of the gut microbiome. In other words, if you’re currently sensitive to wheat but improve the health of your gut, you may be able to tolerate wheat in the future.
Is glyphosate killing off protective microbes and impairing wheat digestion?
Glyphosate is the active ingredient in the popular herbicide Roundup, and its usage on wheat in the United States has risen sharply in the last decade. Several animal studies have increased our understanding of the potential effects of glyphosate on the gut microbiome. Opportunistic pathogens like Salmonella appear to be highly resistant to glyphosate, whereas Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus, and Enterococcus species seem to be especially susceptible.38 This may be particularly true in cases of insufficient protein intake.39
Glyphosate may also reduce the activity of protease, lipase, and amylase, enzymes responsible for the digestion of protein, fats, and carbohydrates, and disrupt the structure of microvilli. This may also impact the immune response:
“Glyphosate may interfere with the breakdown of complex proteins in the human stomach, leaving larger fragments of wheat in the human gut that will then trigger an autoimmune response.” 40
In this way, glyphosate may act as an adjuvant, making gut immune cells hyper-reactive to gluten, ATIs, or other wheat compounds I mentioned previously. This hyperactivity may be particularly pronounced if the gut is already in a state of increased permeability.
Many people with NCG/WS have leaky gut and autoimmunity
A recent study performed by Uhde et al. provided some additional insight relative to NCG/WS.41 They found that individuals with NCG/WS had:
- Increased LPS-binding protein and soluble CD14 in the blood
- Enhanced antibody reactivity to bacterial components LPS and flagellin
- Increased levels of serum FABP2
In other words, NCG/WS patients had widespread inflammation and leaky gut:
“The results demonstrate the presence of objective markers of systemic immune activation and gut epithelial cell damage in individuals who report sensitivity to wheat in the absence of coeliac disease.” 41
Moreover, these markers decreased dramatically after a six-month period of strict gluten avoidance. This was not the first study to identify the presence of leaky gut in NCG/WS patients. In 2015, Hollon et al. demonstrated that intestinal biopsies from patients with active CD or NCG/WS had a greater increase in intestinal permeability in response to gliadin than healthy controls or CD patients in remission.42
Other studies have found that high proportions of people with NCG/WS have autoimmune disease or antinuclear antibodies (ANA, antibodies against their own cells). In a large retrospective study of patients with NCG/WS, 46 percent of patients had elevated ANA and 29 percent went on to develop autoimmune disease during the ten year follow-up period.43
Unfortunately, because of current confusion and misunderstanding surrounding NCG/WS, many doctors fail to test NCG/WS patients for the presence of these antibodies. Some may even mistakenly suggest that these patients are okay eating wheat in moderation, leading to potentially irreversible organ damage.
In a later section, I’ll describe the best commercially available tests for these antibodies, to determine whether you should be concerned about potential autoimmunity. First, I want to briefly discuss the research we have on gluten-free diets and the composition of the gut microbiota.
Gluten intake modestly affects the gut microbiome and host immunity
Few studies have assessed how gluten consumption itself changes the gut microbiome. One 2009 study found that in healthy subjects, a gluten-free diet was associated with lower Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus spp. and higher amounts of Enterobacteriaceae and E. coli.44 However, the study only included ten participants, and the gluten-free diet significantly reduced intake of polysaccharides. This decrease in fiber intake is a common occurrence among those who switch directly from processed gluten-containing bread, pastries, and sweets to processed gluten-free alternatives (as opposed to adopting a whole foods diet) but makes it difficult to interpret the study results.
Notably, the gluten-free diet also reduced cytokine production by cultured blood immune cells when exposed to fecal samples. In particular, the gluten-free diet reduced production of pro-inflammatory cytokines TNFα, IFN–γ, and IL-8:
“Thus, a GFD could contribute to reduce the pro-inflammatory signals in the gut by introducing modifications in the microbiota structure.”
Another study published in 2018 compared sixty Danish adults that underwent eight weeks on a low-gluten diet and eight weeks on a high-gluten diet.45 The low-gluten diet altered the fecal microbiome, reducing relative abundance of Bifidobacterium, two species of Dorea, one species of Blautia, two species of Lachnospiraceae, and two butyrate-producing bacteria Anerostipes hadrus and Eubacterium hallii. However, the low-gluten diet also increased the relative abundance of Clostridiales and an unclassified species of Lachnospiraceae, two butyrate-producing taxa. There were no changes in microbial diversity or fecal short-chain fatty acid production.
Notably, total energy, fiber, and FODMAP intake did not change between the two different dietary conditions. Most interestingly, the low-gluten diet reduced breath hydrogen after a meal and self-reported bloating, even though these individuals did not have any diagnosed digestive issues, It also significantly increased production of the satiety hormone PYY and resulted in weight loss, which was attributed to enhanced generation of heat (thermogenesis).
There were no major changes in inflammatory markers, though serum IL-1β, a molecule involved in the inflammatory response, was reduced on the low-gluten diet. Overall, more studies are needed to understand how different gluten-free diets might impact the fecal microbiome and immune system, and how other therapies might improve tolerance to gluten. Study of mucus-associated microbes and those that reside in the small intestine may also provide key insights, as we’ll see in the next section.
High prevalence of SIBO and gut pathologies in CD and NCG/WS
Up to a third of CD patients continue to experience symptoms after adopting a gluten-free diet. While many of these cases are due to accidental gluten contamination, studies suggest that some ongoing symptoms may be due to small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) or other gut pathologies.
The small intestine is the primary site of nutrient absorption and normally contains relatively few microbes, while the large intestine, or colon, contains a dense microbial ecosystem. SIBO is characterized by abnormally large numbers of microbes in the small intestine and/or the presence of microbes normally found in the large intestine in the small intestine. These microbes can ferment food in the small intestine, producing unpleasant GI symptoms like bloating, abdominal pain, and gas.
In 2003, a group of Italian researchers studied 15 CD patients who continued to experience GI symptoms after at least 6-8 months of consuming a gluten-free diet.46 Intestinal biopsies revealed that the gut tissue had healed, and no longer had the characteristic atrophy of CD, suggesting that they did not have a reoccurrence of active disease. Of the 15 patients, 10 tested positive for SIBO by breath test, two had lactose intolerance, and two had parasitic infections (one had an accidental gluten exposure and was not treated). After being treated for these conditions, all of the patients were symptom-free.
However, the true prevalence of SIBO in non-responsive CD is widely debated and may actually be much lower. While breath testing is the easiest non-invasive way to assess SIBO in clinical practice, it may result in over-diagnosis. A study in 2009 used the gold standard for assessing the presence of SIBO, quantitative culture of intestinal aspirate, and estimated that only 11 percent of patients with non-responsive CD have SIBO.47
To my knowledge, only one study has assessed the prevalence of SIBO in patients with NCG/WS. Of the 84 patients, 16 (19%) were positive for SIBO by breath test, five had fructose intolerance, and three had lactose intolerance.48 Overall, this suggests that doctors should be screening for other gut pathologies in cases of refractory CD or ongoing NCG/WS.
Update 5/28/20: for my latest thinking on SIBO, please see this article.
Could probiotics improve gluten tolerance?
Probiotics may also have the potential to make wheat less allergenic or mitigate the effects of gluten in sensitive individuals. Certain strains of Bifidobacterium longum (NCC2705 and CECT 7347), Bifidobacterium animalis (subspecies lactis), and Lactobacillus rhamnosus (GG) have been found to attenuate the damaging effects of gliadin on the gut mucosa in cell culture and animal studies.49–52
In a randomized, placebo-controlled trial of children with newly diagnosed CD, Bifidobacterium longum CECT 7347 supplementation for three months improved growth parameters, reduced abundance of the potentially pro-inflammatory species Bacteroides fragilis, and reduced fecal secretory IgA, suggesting that the gut immune system was no longer on “high alert”.
Another study in children with CD on a gluten-free diet found that three months of supplementation with Bifidobacterium breve (BR03 and B632) significantly reduced circulating TNFα, a marker of systemic inflammation. Three months after stopping probiotic supplementation, TNFα levels were again elevated.53
In 2013, Smecuol et al. found that Bifidobacterium infantis (NLS strain) alleviated some of the symptoms of untreated CD in adults, including indigestion, constipation, and reflux, but was not able to significantly alleviate intestinal permeability.54
Overall, these studies suggest that there is great potential for probiotic supplementation to mitigate the damage caused by gluten and improve overall health in gluten-sensitive individuals. In the summary and takeaways section, I’ll provide my top four probiotics for gluten intolerance.
Soaking, sprouting, and fermenting wheat
For centuries, traditional cultures had the wisdom to prepare wheat and other grains to make them more digestible and more nutritious. The most common approach includes soaking, grinding, removing most of the bran, fermenting, and cooking. Modern nutritional science has confirmed that this process indeed improves the digestibility and nutrient value of grains, reducing the level of toxins and anti-nutrients, including lectins, phytates, and many of the most immunogenic proteins.
For example, a series of experiments by a group of Italian researchers found that the fermentation of wheat flour with the probiotic VSL#3 for 24 hours resulted in almost complete degradation of several immunogenic proteins in wheat.55 The release of zonulin from cultured intestinal epithelial cells treated with this pre-digested wheat was considerably lower than epithelial cells treated with un-treated wheat flour, and the agglutinating ability of the wheat was lost. Moreover, CD biopsies exposed to the VSL#3-digested wheat did not show an inflammatory response. VSL#3 also partially, but not completely, attenuated gliadin-induced intestinal permeability in mice.
This suggests that long-time fermented wheat products, such as authentic sourdough bread, are best if you plan to consume wheat regularly. Note that most bread marketed as sourdough is not actually authentically fermented, so be sure to look for sourdoughs that do not contain yeast, and that allow the dough to rise naturally for at least 4-6 hours before baking.
You can Buy Amrit Moti Wheat Flour at :-