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Beyond Gluten: The Surprising Impact of Grains on Autoimmunity

Laurie Geis-Cole

Jun 23, 2023

Discover How Eliminating Grains Can Transform Your Autoimmune Health

Autoimmune disorders occur when the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells and tissues in the body, leading to chronic inflammation. In some cases, grains can play a role in triggering and exacerbating this inflammation. Grains such as wheat, barley, and rye contain a protein called gluten, which can be difficult to digest for some individuals with autoimmune disorders like celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity. When these individuals consume gluten-containing grains, it can activate an immune response, leading to inflammation throughout the body. This chronic inflammation can manifest in various ways depending on the autoimmune disorder. For example, individuals with rheumatoid arthritis may experience joint pain, swelling, and stiffness, while those with psoriasis may have red, scaly skin patches.

However, it's important to note that even non-gluten containing grains can have negative effects on health, particularly in individuals with autoimmune disorders. Grains, such as corn, oats, and rice, can contain other problematic components like lectins and phytates. Lectins are proteins found in many plants, including grains, that can irritate the gut lining and potentially contribute to inflammation. Phytates are compounds that can bind to minerals like calcium, iron, and zinc, making them less available for absorption in the body. This can lead to nutrient deficiencies, which can further compromise the immune system and overall health.

Additionally, grains, even those without gluten, can have a high glycemic index. This means they can cause a rapid increase in blood sugar levels, leading to insulin spikes and potentially contributing to inflammation. Chronic elevated blood sugar and insulin levels have been associated with various health issues, including increased risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

For individuals with autoimmune disorders, excluding both gluten-containing and non-gluten containing grains from their diet may provide additional health benefits. By avoiding all grains, they can reduce exposure to potential triggers of inflammation and minimize the negative effects of lectins and phytates. This can help support gut health, nutrient absorption, and overall immune system function.

It's worth mentioning that removing grains entirely from the diet requires careful planning to ensure adequate intake of essential nutrients. Working with a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian can help individuals develop a well-rounded and balanced diet that meets their nutritional needs while avoiding grains.

In summary, grains, including gluten-containing and non-gluten containing varieties, can contribute to inflammation in autoimmune disorders. Gluten-containing grains can trigger immune responses and worsen symptoms in susceptible individuals. Non-gluten containing grains may contain other problematic components, such as lectins and phytates, which can irritate the gut and interfere with nutrient absorption. By excluding all grains from the diet, individuals with autoimmune disorders may experience reduced inflammation and potential improvements in their overall health. However, it's important to seek professional guidance to ensure nutritional adequacy when making significant dietary changes.

Health Disclaimer:

The information provided on this website is for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Always consult with your doctor before starting any new diet, exercise program, or other lifestyle changes. The content provided on this website is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Reliance on any information provided by this website is solely at your own risk.

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