Yes, it's being claimed this morning on AOL that gluten intolerance, aka coeliac disease, is an "autoimmune" condition. In other words, a condition that develops when the body's immune system goes awry and turns on itself, regarding its own proteins etc as though "foreign invaders" that have to be intercepted and neutralized.
But gluten, a major class of proteins in wheat (primarily) and other cereals IS foreign. The body does not make its own gluten. So how come coeliac disease is now being classified as an autoimmune condition, as if it were essentially no different from Type 1 (insulin-dependent) diabetes?
|See AOL news item on right: "Gluten. Coeliac Disease. Know the Facts. This autoimmune condition is more common than some think"|
|Here's a close up of the article.|
|Here's what wiki has to say under "autoimmune disease".|
"...normally present in the body?". But there are substances normally present in most people's bodies that are of foreign origin, like the common components of diets. So what earthly use is this wiki definition of "autoimmunity" (auto- meaning self) given it fails to differentiate between one's own and foreign proteins? Already it's becoming clear how coeliac disease could come to be misclassified given that autoimmune disease has been sloppily defined to mean pretty well anything.
So has coeliac disease been added to wiki's list of "autoimmune diseases"? Answer- YES!
|There it is in the list of autoimmune diseases, between Castleman's disease and Chagas disease.|
|Here are the three references that we are told back the classification of coeliac disease as an autoimmune condition.|
Ref 16: Meize-Grochowski, R. (2005) "Celiac disease:a multisystem autoimmune disorder."
Is that in a recognized journal of immunology? No, it's in "Gastroenterol.Nurs", which appears to be primarily concerned with patient care, not fundamental science.
Ref 17: Sollid,L.M., Jabri,B (2005) "Is celiac disease an autoimmune disorder?" Current opinion in Immunology.
So it's not stating categorically that coeliac disease is autoimmune. It's asking if it's autoimmune. So what's it doing in a list of 3 references that are supposed to be supporting a claim that the classification is "accepted" when it's merely being proposed?
There is something profoundly not right here. I shall now have to try and find what those 3 papers say, but already have a strong suspicion that coeliac disease has been misclassified. Why? Who might benefit from that, i.e a kind of whitewash? "Don't blame us, it's your own over-reactive immune system that's at fault"
So what's this blogger's beef you may ask. Does it really matter what label you attach to coeliac disease - autoimmune condition or food allergy (I believe it's the latter). Either way the individual has to eliminate gluten as much as possible from the diet.
But that's the whole point. Eliminate the foreign substance to which you may be sensitive, and chances are your gut epithelium will start to recover and your the symptoms will subside. So yes, you were ALLERGIC to wheat, and don't let anyone tell you different, or try to blind you with immunological mumbo jumbo.
So why attempt to whitewash cereal gluten, making out the fault is with the individual's immune system, that they are somehow "faulty" humans. No, they are not. They have simply inherited a set of genes from mankind's earlier caveman history that had not yet acquired tolerance to a particular source of protein that was becoming a major food source with the arrival of agriculture.
So why did early man probably react in far greater numbers to wheat and other proteins (as a sizeable proportion of the Irish still do, with potato having been their staple for centuries, not wheat)?
Answer: because wheat grains and their food stores are that species means of sustaining the next generation of plants. They did NOT evolve to be a staple of human diet. Indeed, one might hypothesise that wheat gluten evolved not only as a handy way of storing protein, but as a means of making its predators ill and less likely to reproduce. (OK. it's a long shot, but I may have more to say on that score at the biological and molecular level in future posting).
All of this needless to say is a shameless travesty of reality. We are born with a unique mix of genes that represents a particular and probably unique blend of inherited components that have been passed on because each confers some survival advantage, long enough to be passed on to progeny. What one can't be certain of is whether tha particualr MIX one has inherited is ideal for the life circumstances in which one finds oneself with certain foods readily available, others less so.
If there's a particular item of diet that you react against - be it gluten or something else - then it's not a "fault" in your metabolism or immune system. It's simply that you are one variant of "healthy" but ill-adapted to a particualr foodstuff your body still regards as "foreign" and which tries to reject at the cellular and molecular level. In short you are allergic to that food. Attempts to reclassify coeliac disease as an autoimmine condition are simply a ploy to get the term "wheat allergy" out the public domain. It's a PR job, pure and simple, one that is designed to protect the image of cereals as ideal, made-for-man food whose reputation must not be sullied by the 1% who show intolerance.
Coeliac disease is NOT an autoimmune condition, any more than an anaphylactic reaction to a bee or wasp sting. It's your body reacting, or over-reacting- to a foreign protein to which your immune system for whatever reason is on constant high alert. Repeat: you are a variant of "normal", part of a normal bell-shaped distribution curve.
It's time to put the clock back and start re-educating the public on the realities of diet and immune response. The first priority should for wiki to exclude coeliac disease from its list of autoimmune conditions. Hopefully journalists will get the message too, instead of uncritically transmitting industry-friendly narratives.
Have been googling 'coeliac disease autoimmune' and have come up with the following.
First: an abstract of one of the three papers listed above:
Is celiac disease an autoimmune disorder?
My response: will be added tomorrow.
Second: This passage from this link really says it all and frankly astonishes me for its failure to spot the obvious - namely that it's a specific FOREIGN protein that is being 'mistakenly' recognized IN THE FIRST INSTANCE as the enemy in the first instance.The subsequent immune response is a secondary SYMPTOM, not a primary cause.
Cut-and-paste from the article (my highlighting):
What is coeliac disease?
Coeliac disease is a condition that causes inflammation in the lining of the small intestine (part of the gut).
Coeliac disease is not a food allergy or a food intolerance. It is an autoimmune disease. The immune system makes white blood cells (lymphocytes) and antibodies to protect against foreign objects such as bacteria, viruses, and other germs. In an autoimmune disease, the immune system mistakes part or parts of the body as foreign. Other autoimmune diseases include type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and some thyroid disorders.
What causes coeliac disease?The cause is a sensitivity to gluten. Gluten occurs in common foods including wheat, barley, and rye, and any foods made from these such as bread, pasta and biscuits. Some people with coeliac disease are also sensitive to oats.
People with coeliac disease make antibodies against gluten. Antibodies are proteins in the immune system that normally attack bacteria, viruses, and other germs. In effect, the gut mistakes gluten to be harmful, and reacts against it as if it were fighting off a germ. These antibodies lead to inflammation developing in the lining of the small intestine.
Coeliac disease can develop in babies. Older children or adults who have not previously had problems may also become gluten-sensitive at some point in their life and develop coeliac disease. It is not known why the immune system of some people becomes sensitised to gluten.
Here's a third splendid-looking feature that I've only had time to skim briefly, but already it's clear that the lady's focus and thinking chimes closely with my own. It's the gluten that is the culprit, and the primary reason is to do with its specific amino acids sequences, i.e. the order in which they are linked that prevents them being digested down to individual amino acids. The digestion stops at the peptide stage, and its those peptides that get absorbed and trigger the immune response.
Julianne Taylor, RN
Mon, 23 Sep 2013 09:29 CEST
Discussion to follow. Comments/criticism invited.
Thursday 6th October
I think I know how the decision to re-classify coeliac disease as an autoimmune disease was arrived at. But there are two elements to it. One is to do with mechanism, inasmuch as there is a secondary autoimmune phase that gives rise to the chronic inflammation and malabsorption. But there's a deeper philosophical one that I strongly suspect to represent an aversion on the part of the medical fraternity towards a key plank of modern biology - the one that supports a host of otherwise inexplicable phenomena
Here's a clue to the shape of the hole that exists in the medical mindset, at least at GP level.
D for ?
Part of what's to follow is an appreciation of the natural life cycle of wheat and other cereals, not the modern strains, but the kinds that existed as wild grasses prior to agriculture. Yes, the D word will feature more and more here.
In passing, it came as a pleasant surprise on reading the wiki entry on "Wheat" to come across this section which, to my mind, is spot on re the TOXICOLOGY, a word I use not lightly, with no mention of the A word.
Yes. wheat did not evolve to serve human nutritional needs. Wheat evolved to serve the interests of wheat. D for ?
Health concernsMain article: Gluten sensitivitySeveral screening studies in Europe, South America, Australasia, and the USA suggest that approximately 0.5–1% of these populations may have undetected coeliac disease. Coeliac (also written as celiac) disease is a condition that is caused by an adverse immune system reaction to gliadin, a gluten protein found in wheat (and similar grains of the tribe Triticeae which includes other species such as barley and rye). Upon exposure to gliadin, the enzyme tissue transglutaminase modifies the protein, and the immune system cross-reacts with the bowel tissue, causing an inflammatory reaction. That leads to flattening of the lining of the small intestine, which interferes with the absorption of nutrients. The only effective treatment is a lifelong gluten-free diet.
The estimate for people in the United States is between 0.5 and 1.0 percent of the population.
While gluten sensitivity is caused by a reaction to wheat proteins, it is not the same as a wheat allergy.
More later, once I've had a chance to read that Julianne Taylor paper.