8. Damage to the Gut Biome
Not the all-important gut biome! The gut biome, aka the gut microbiome, aka the gut flora, is the collection of friendly bacteria that live in your gut. They help regulate your immune system, control intestinal permeability, digest your food, synthesize nutrients like vitamin K2, send hunger/fullness signals to your brain, and do all kinds of other stuff.
But they really don’t like gluten, and gluten really doesn’t like them. People with celiac disease often have very bad problems with the gut flora, but those problems are significantly reduced when the person eliminates gluten. Once again, it’s not limited to celiac disease: non-celiac gluten sensitivity also involves disturbances in the gut flora.
Even in people who aren’t sensitive to gluten at all, inflammation caused by other components of wheat can also rebound on the gut biome. And independently of any of that, wheat is also high in FODMAPs, which may be an issue for people with sensitivities to that.
9. Gastrointestinal Symptoms (Even for People who Don’t have Celiac Disease)
All this stuff about gut bacteria and intestinal permeability might seem totally abstract and disconnected from the real world, so let’s bring it back down to earth: this stuff has actual, noticeable consequences. Most of the direct damage involves the gut, so it makes sense to start there:
- In people with celiac disease, gluten causes immediate and severe symptoms (diarrhea and/or constipation, heartburn, pain, bloating, gas, stools that smell awful, sometimes vomiting…).
- In people with non-celiac gluten sensitivity, symptoms are typically similar to celiac disease.
- Even in people who aren’t sensitive to gluten specifically, the inflammatory action of other components of wheat (wheat germ agglutinin and amylase trypsin inhibitors) contributes to chronic, relapsing gut problems.
Of course, there are non-wheat-related reasons why a person might have GI problems (stress is a biggie, and stress is certifiably gluten-free). But gluten can contribute to the problem, even if it’s “only” a low-level inflammatory response that you’ve gotten used to. Sure, constipation and feeling bloated after meals might be your “normal,” but what if it didn’t have to be?