Dr. Hubbard discussed research into zonulin in his presentation at the conference. As many of you know, the Hubbard Foundation recommends a gluten-free diet to maintain endothelial integrity and a healthy blood brain barrier.
So, what is gluten?? Gluten is a special type of protein that is commonly found in rye, wheat, and barley. Therefore, it is found in most types of cereals and in many types of bread. Not all foods from the grain family, however, contain gluten. Examples of grains that do not have gluten include wild rice, corn, buckwheat, millet, amaranth, quinoa, teff, oats, soybeans, and sunflower seeds.
If you're like me, you've probably wondered, "What the heck does gluten have to do with the brain?"
Well, there is a very interesting connection, and it's based on research being done at the University of Maryland on a protein called zonulin.
Zonulin is increased in our blood when we eat foods that contain glutens-- link
EVEN IF YOU DO NOT HAVE CELIAC DISEASE OR A GLUTEN ALLERGY, ZONULIN WILL AFFECT YOU.
Zonulin works as a gatekeeper in the intestine and also in the blood brain barrier. The more zonulin you have in your blood, the more permeable the tight junctions of your blood vessels become. Not a good thing, if we want to maintain a healthy lining in our guts, and blood brain barrier.
So, the basic message is...try not to eat foods that contain glutens. If pwMS have a venous system that refluxes and creates inflammation, we need to do everything in our power to keep those blood vessels healthy, strong and non-permeable. And avoiding gluten and the zonulin it creates, is a terrific thing to do!
Researchers find increased zonulin levels among celiac disease patients
Researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine have found that the human protein zonulin, which regulates the permeability of the intestine, is at increased levels during the acute phase of celiac disease. The discovery suggests that increased levels of zonulin are a contributing factor to the development of celiac disease and other autoimmune disorders such as insulin dependent diabetes, multiple sclerosis, andrheumatoid arthritis. The findings are published in the April 29 issue of the journal Lancet.
"Zonulin works like the traffic conductor or the gatekeeper of our body's tissues," says lead author Alessio Fasano, M.D., professor of pediatrics and physiology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, and director of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition at the University of Maryland Hospital for Children. "Our largest gateway is the intestine with its billions of cells.
Earlier research conducted by Dr. Fasano discovered that zonulin is also involved in the regulation of the impenetrable barrier between the blood stream and the brain, known as the blood-brain barrier. Celiac disease offered Dr. Fasano and his team a unique model for understanding the dynamic interaction between zonulin and the immune system. Celiac disease is a genetic disorder that affects one out of every 300 people in Europe, but its prevalence in the United States is not fully known. People who suffer from the disorder are unable to eat foods that contain the protein gluten, which is found in wheat and other grains. The gluten sets off a reaction that can cause diarrhea, abdominal pain, malabsorption of nutrients, and other gastrointestinal problems. Celiac disease can be easily treated by avoiding foods with gluten.