Protein Power Lifeplan inspired me to do a quick sketch this afternoon. It’s a simple schematic of the human body and gut.
Here’s the passage from PPL that brought this image to mind (emphasis mine):
The body has two external surfaces to defend: the one that everyone is familiar with, the skin surface, and the other, which few people recognize as external to the body, the lining of the intestinal tract. What may seem to you to be deep, deep within your body – the contents of your very guts – is actually very carefully kept on the outside. So the body, as we think of it, has a tunnel, an external passageway, right through the middle of it, beginning with the mouth, extending down the esophagus, the stomach, the small intestine, the colon, and the rectum, and finally emerging at the far end. What’s inside that tunnel isn’t technically inside your body, even though it goes right through the middle of it.
Obviously, the majority of the passage led right to the sketch, but the last sentence really put my understanding of leaky gut in a new light. Food (and the feces we turn that food into) is never inside our body. That really emphasizes that lots of bad stuff can happen if that food or feces does get into our bodies.
The short, simple version of leaky gut is as follows: Lectins (proteins found in all grains) like gluten (in wheat) are not broken down in the stomach, and so remain intact through the digestive tract. There, especially if the gut is being overworked by the pressure buildup of fermentation of lots of starch and sugar in the colon, these complete proteins can break through the gut lining and into the bloodstream.
Our brilliant body has a very effective system for dealing with these invaders; we quickly develop antibodies to kill the foreigners. Unfortunately, this swift military response can overshoot a bit. The invading gluten protein can look pretty similar to other cells in our body (all our cells contain proteins in the form of DNA), so those violent antibodies with orders to destroy the gluten can easily kill some of our native cells.
Think of these antibodies as assassins with a blurry “wanted” picture in a world of fraternal twins. This case of mistaken identity is known as an autoimmune reaction, conditions well understood to cause Type I Diabetes, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus, Asthma, and Multiple Sclerosis. Recent research even indicates that Type II Diabetes could have an autoimmune condition as well.
Bottom Line: Grains are bad (in part) because they can move your food where it doesn’t belong – inside your body.
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