About one in 350 people has celiac disease, an autoimmune condition in which the lining of the gut attacks the protein in gluten. Far more than one in 350 people, however, report problems when eating wheat. The problem may indeed be wheat, but not gluten.
Dr William Davis, an American cardiologist, has become famous as the author of the bestselling book Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health and as a founder of the increasingly popular Wheat Belly Institute. Over 100 million Americans, Dr Davis tells us, experience some degree of illness due to their consumption of wheat. Atherosclerosis, diabetes, cataracts, wrinkles, osteoporosis, and, of course, obesity can all be tracked back to wheat consumption. What if, however, the real culprit leading to a predisposition to all of these diseases is not just wheat?
Medical Establishment Skeptical Of "Wheat Sensitivity"
The ideas of Dr Davis and like minded holistic physicians have been met with considerably less than enthusiasm by the mainstream medical establishment. There is no doubt in the minds of modern doctors that gluten enteropathy, also known as celiac disease or celiac sprue, is an all too real condition.
Celiac disease is a chronic condition in which the lining of the bowel is constantly inflamed by an autoimmune reaction to gliadin, one of the proteins found in gluten, which is in turne found in wheat, rye, and barley. In this condition, the presence of gliadin in the intestine activates one or both of two antigens, known as DQ2 and DQ8. These antigens are only activated by the presence of gliadin. When they are activated, the cause the immune system to secrete antibodies, as if the gliadin were an invading microorganism. Because there is no microorganism to be attacked, the antibodies attack the lining of the intestine itself.
The immune system's attack on the bowel smooths out the villi, the tiny pounches where the intestine absorbs nutrients from digested food.
It also creates long, painful, and sometimes blood crypts in the lining of the gut, which interfere with the absorption of nutrients even more and can become infected. Destruction of the bowel results in malnutrition, particularly of fats, essential fatty acids, and fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D, E, and K. Chronic malnutrition causes problems all over the body, as well as frequent,especially malodorous diarrhea.
Why Doctors Are Skeptical Of The Wheat Belly Hypothesis
The idea that 100,000,000 people in the United States alone strikes many gluten enteropathy researchers as far-fetched. Only about one in 350 Americans, or a little less than 0.3 percent of the total population has been diagnosed with the disease. Operating on a theory that some people might have "occult symptoms" of celiac disease, researchers tested large numbers of Americans for the presence of antibodies to gliadin. They found that about 0.9 percent of the population had antibodies to wheat, which suggests that about one person in one hundred might have the condition, but certainly not one in three.
Dr Davis. argues that when his patients give up wheat, they get better. Something has to be going on, but it not necessarily be a classical gluten enteropathy.
In fact, the mechanism of the disease may not occur in the digestive tract at all, judging from the findings of Finnish researchers.