Why is gluten a problem for humans?
Gluten is a protein found in grains such as wheat, barley and rye. It has a detrimental effect on the gut lining causing it to become permeable. Our intestines have a lining that is only one cell deep. This is damaged when exposed to gluten and becomes permeable. As a result the content of the gut gets into the bloodstream where it is not supposed to be. This causes the immune system to be stimulated unnecessarily.
Part of the molecule looks similar to some of our tissues. The molecular mimicry stimulates the immune system to produce antibodies against the self. As a result we can develop an autoimmune disease. One of the most common is Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. This can result in an under active thyroid causing fatigue, dry skin, weight gain and hair loss.
Apart from the fact that wheat can raise our blood sugar quickly it also has a drug like effect on the brain. It is broken down into gluteomorphins. These have a heroin like effect on the brain which may explain why we crave bread and pastries. Although our daily bread may seem to have been around forever this is far from the truth from an evolutionary perspective.
It was introduced into the diets of the people of the Middle East about 12,000 years ago. Modern humans are a 195,000 year old species so we have spent most of the time on the planet in prehistory or the paleolithic notably without agriculture. Could it be that we are ill adapted to wheat yet it has hijacked our brains? From that perspective it is a very smart plant!