Health practitioners and naturopathic doctors tend to shy away from sweeping statements, so when someone like Dr. Joseph Pizzorno announces flat out at a lecture that no one should eat wheat, it tends to stick with you. Dr. Pizzorno is well respected in the health industry. Among his many credentials, he has authored the definitive Textbook of Naturopathic Medicine, and is the co-founder of Bastyr University. His statement that no one should eat wheat came during a presentation about gut permeability and the damage it can do to the body. Alas, it also came during the dessert course at a beautiful winery, so it put a bit of a damper on the chocolate cake.
He explained it so elegantly that it is hard to do it justice here, but I will try. The body will periodically create a little divide between the cells that create the seal around the intestines so that it can take a sample and ensure that there isn’t a problem there that needs to be dealt with by the immune system. This is a controlled procedure and necessary for continued good health. The protein that modulates this activity is called zonulin. Here’s where it gets tricky: gliadin (the protein found in gluten containing grains, particularly wheat) triggers zonulin. Suddenly, the body looses control over gut permeability. Your genetic make-up will determine how much of a problem this is – some people make very little zonulin in response to wheat. The majority of the population will have increased permeability for an hour after consuming wheat and about a quarter of the population will have increased permeability for three hours after consuming it. In our North American culture where toast or cereal is a standard breakfast, a muffin at coffee break, sandwich at lunch, etc. many people never go more than three hours without consuming wheat and therefore are constantly in a state of ‘leaky gut’ which exposes them to a host of other problems.
Of course, there are other things that contribute to gut permeability and some of them are out of your control. But staying away from wheat is so easy that it seems silly not to give it a shot, especially if you are dealing with chronic illness.
What do you think?