What is The Gluten Summit?

Dr Tom O’Bryan from theDr.com has generously gathered a group of medical professionals at the forefront of research into gluten related health issues, nutrition and healthy living to bring us a series of interviews on the topic of 'gluten'. The goal of the summit is to bring recognition of gluten-related disorders forward by five years. The summit is taking place online from 11-17 November 2013.

The wrap up from day 2 of The Gluten Summit

Another day of enthralling listening! We can't believe how much we are learning and it is so great to see so many people getting on board and listening to the summit. The highlight of today's interviews was Dr. Fasano's explanation of how coeliac disease is triggered and the war that occurs inside the body as a result. We also found Dr. Lipski's analysis of how gut health has a detrimental impact on our overall health... very insightful and now we are super vigilant about what we put in our mouths! Read on to find out some of the interesting facts...

The interviewees and their topics

  • Dr Alessio Fasano: Why creating the healthiest intestinal environment possible can arrest your vulnerability to the #3 cause of getting sick and dying.
  • Dr. Rodney Ford: The surprising ways gluten sensitivity can affect a child’s health.
  • Dr Liz Lipski: How the right diet can address symptoms throughout the body.

The most interesting points to take away

  1. 99.9% of humankind throughout history have been gluten free, we only began eating gluten containing grains 10,000 years ago.
  2. Gluten is nutritionally useless.
  3. The intestine is an interface with the environment and we are healthy or otherwise because of what nutrients, toxins etc we can take from it. Of course genes also play a part in this too.
  4. We can’t blame genetics for the epidemic of autoimmune disease because genetic mutations take centuries.
  5. There are three ingredients needed for an autoimmune disease to develop, firstly the right genes, secondly the environment but the two need to react with each other and the only way this can happen is if the intestine is permeable, this is thought to be the third ingredient.
  6. If you are born by c-section you are much more likely (3-4 times) to develop and autoimmune disease.
  7. It is reductive to say that coeliac is a gastrointestinal disease because that is simply the host of the first encounter, the resulting inflammation can be anywhere else in the body. As an example dermatitis herpetiformis affects the skin rather than the intestine.
  8. Innate immunity is our bodies first immune response to battle illness but they can’t sustain a long fight. Adaptive immunity uses antibodies (customised weapons) to fight illness over a longer period of time but in those with coeliac disease this destroys tissue rather than the foreign body because of a miscommunication between the innate and adaptive immune systems.
  9. Families with children on a gluten free diet learn a lot about food and as a result eat more healthily.
  10. People can have high antibodies to gliadin for decades without feeling unwell. This is the same as the onset of heart disease or cancer, they take years to develop obvious symptoms.
  11. The tissue in the human body most likely to manifest the symptoms of gluten sensitivity is believed to be the brain and nervous system.
  12. It can in some instances take up to ten years for gliadins to disappear from the bloodstream.
  13. A gluten free diet might seem more expensive from a grocery shopping point of view but over a lifetime of medical bills, ill health and the effect this has on your life, it is actually inexpensive. Also, if you replace sources of fibre (like bread) with vegetables rather than gluten free alternatives it doesn’t have to be expensive.
  14. 20ppm is proven to not cause gut damage in coeliac disease but it might be enough to activate memory B cells to produce antibodies.
  15. Antibodies circulate for 3 to 6 months following a single minute exposure.
  16. The digestive system is home to 2/3 of the immune system, it decides whether foods are friend or foe.
  17. The gastrointestinal mucosa is only one cell thick, the cells replace themselves every 3-5 days and if there is a problem (stress, illness etc.) it could lead to leaky gut (intestinal permeability).
  18. Sugar is a highly inflammatory food and the average American eats 65-79 kilos per year. For some people it makes up 18-20% of their daily food intake yet it contains no nutrients. Sugar could be a cause of leaky gut and it also drains the body of a lot of good things in order to process it.
  19. There is more communication going from the gut to the brain than the other way around.

Some interesting quotes from the interviews

  • “I don’t think that, at least in the forthcoming future, we’ll have the chance to make a choice between interventional medicine and preventative medicine. We’ve got to go with preventative medicine.” - Dr. Fasano.
  • “The gut is not Las Vegas, what happens in the gut does not stay in the gut.” - Dr. Fasano.
  • “My belief is now - and there is very good evidence for this - is that they brain and the associated nerves are the number one site for related disorders.” - Dr. Rodney Ford.
  • “I expect that a third of the population in another decade with be gluten-zero. And another third will substantially be reducing gluten. And then a third will continue to eat gluten because it’s cheap food.” - Dr. Rodney Ford.
  • “It is the life in food that gives us life and we don’t eat many foods that are alive.” - Dr Lipski said that if we can add more live cultured foods throughout our diets we would have better gut health.
  • “Intestinal permeability and GI issues really underlie so much of all the other diseases that we think of that don’t have anything to do with digestion at all in our minds.” - Dr Lipski.
  • “If we had medicines that were as powerful as food, they would be the number one selling medicines of all time.” - Dr Lipski.
  • “We know that food talks to your genes. And the information that food can give your genes can be inflammatory, or it can be health-provoking. It can sustain and maintain excellent and awesome health over a period of a lifetime.” - Dr Lipski.

Check out our re-caps from the other days of The Gluten Summit