[Article by Julianne Taylor]
In this post I will set the scene for future posts on dietary strategies to treat celiac disease. A number of recent studies have shown that just avoiding gluten is not enough for many, and they also need to avoid other foods in order to reduce the gluten antibodies and inflammation in the intestine.
I will explain why and how gluten is a problem for those who have a specific genotype that predisposes them to celiac disease. I won’t be tackling gluten sensitivity in this post.
Celiac disease (CD) is an immune response to gluten proteins that happens in genetically vulnerable people. Gluten is found in wheat and related cereal grains e.g. wheat, rye, barley, triticale. Gluten is a protein – not a carbohydrate – even though it is found in grains.
Protein digestion: we usually break down proteins into single amino acids
Proteins are constructed with very long chains of amino acids. There are 20 standard amino acids; imagine these being 20 different coloured beads and linked like long chains– like those beads that children snap together. Every protein molecule is constructed with a particular sequence of amino acids (i.e. the beads are in a specific pattern or arrangement). These long chains are folded and coiled, and sometimes crosslink to make a specific protein.