Chronic Grain Consumption = Chronic Gut Inflammation

When foods are immunogenic it means they activate the immune system and induce inflammation. The body detects a pathogen, and releases chemicals called cytokines that bring immune cells to the infected site; reacting the same way to food, as it would to anything else perceived as harmful.

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Although most are making an effort to refrain from foods they’re obviously allergic to (i.e. activates immunoglobulin E), many are unknowingly consuming foods that are immunogenic.  With wheat being the most common example – for tens of millions of Americans.

Other than gluten, many of the gliadin proteins in wheat are responsible for inducing a pro-inflammatory immune response, whether the individual has a known intolerance or not. And unfortunately, because they’re not allergic, and because they’ve been consuming it for so long (and frequently), there are no obvious signs of discomfort.

Many are consuming wheat as a dietary staple – eating it at every meal of the day, on every day of the week.

Sadly, it’s not just intolerances to wheat (and it’s not just 5-10% of the U.S. population), as most grains are implicated for causing inflammation. Since the fiber from whole-grains, and their popular flour counterparts, are classified as acellular carbohydrates; and unlike their cellular counterparts (root vegetables, leafy greens, and fruit), produce an unfriendly bacteria in our gut that results in an inflammatory response.

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Grains are also high in lectins, which are present in the seeds of plants as a defense mechanism. Wheat-germ agglutinin (WGA) is the most heavily studied, and has it’s highest concentration in wheat. Although all lectins have the ability to bind to every cell type (notably those of the gut), and similar to gliadin and the other wheat proteins, they result in an inflammatory response (1, 2, 3, 4) – affecting otherwise healthy individuals without a known allergy.

Inflammation is not only the a critical driver of degenerative disease (ex: Alzheimer’s, heart disease, skin cancer, colon cancer, depression, etc), but it’s been determined that inflammation specific to the gut predicts obesity, and insulin resistance. DIABESITY (obesity + diabetes) caused by chronic inflammation, has been strongly correlated with an endotoxin called LPS (lipo-polysaccharides) in the GI tract, which is elevated when the typical High-Carbohydrate (Grain-Dominant) Western Diet is consumed.

A paper released in 2005 proposed that the switch to a cereal based (agrarian) diet is to blame for the increased prevalence of degenerative disease – and specifically that lectins are to blame for a condition known as leptin resistance.

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The avoidance of cereal grains, or acellular carbohydrates, is likely why groups like the Kitavan Islanders of Oceania can stay lean and extremely healthy on a diet composed of 60-70% carbohydrates.

Interestingly, when acellular carbohydrates are introduced to tribes like this, their health and body composition suffer significantly.

Stay Lean!
Coach Mike