It's no secret that food sensitivities are on the rise. While there are many potential culprits, such as dairy, soy, and corn, gluten is a top offender. The popularity of gluten-free foods are skyrocketing and it's easy for naysayers to think that gluten avoidance is just another meaningless fad. Worse yet, they may even accuse those suffering from a gluten sensitivity that their symptoms are all in their heads. After all, where were all the gluten sensitivities a hundred years ago? Well, the gluten we know today is, in fact, not the same gluten that our ancestors knew. And a MTHFR needs to know this!
Gluten is a component of the grains wheat, barley and rye. Due to the hyper-prevalence of wheat-containing processed foods, the general population is exposed to gluten the most through wheat. However, did you know that wheat has been genetically modified to be dramatically different from its original form? Einkorn, the "OG" wheat, was a diploid, meaning it had two sets of chromosomes. Through genetic engineering, it now contains six sets! Wheat's gluten content also increased dramatically as a result. Not only does modern wheat contain more gluten than in the past, but the gluten, itself, is more reactive. In other words, more people are experiencing adverse effects from modern gluten than the original gluten that nature intended.
Researchers have connected gluten to the development of autoimmune disease. And I'm not just talking about celiac disease, which is an autoimmune disease directly related to the inability to consume gluten. Other autoimmune diseases, such as Hashimoto's thyroiditis, Addison's disease, and Lupus can actually be triggered by its consumption. This is partly due to its inflammatory effect in the digestive tract, leading to "leaky gut syndrome," which often precedes developing an autoimmune disease. To make matters worse, wheat is commonly sprayed with the highly toxic pesticide chemical glyphosate. Glyphosate is also connected to the development of autoimmune disease and general deterioration of health. Considering that those with an MTHFR variant are susceptible to the development of autoimmune disease, eliminating gluten from the diet is a great place to start.
If you have already developed an autoimmune disease, I also highly suggest eliminating gluten from your diet. Many people find going gluten-free is enough to put their conditions into remission or at least make symptoms more manageable. As a quick personal anecdote, I was diagnosed with Hashimoto's thyroiditis when I was just a freshman in college. My endocrinologist prescribed me medication to improve thyroid hormone levels and energy, but ensured me that it was impossible to stop producing the antibodies. After just under a year on medication, this was exactly the case. I eventually decided to try eliminating gluten from my diet. Within 6 months, I was no longer producing antibodies and have not in over a decade! What was medically impossible became a reality, simply by cutting out gluten. And not to mention the gut health benefits. While I can not guarantee that everyone will experience such dramatic results, I hope my experience encourages you.
Some people are able to tolerate gluten well. In such a case, I still recommend at least eliminating gluten from sources of processed foods. Stick with organic, whole grain options that offer real nutritional value and aren't laden with chemicals.
For the rest of us, gluten is a MTHFR that should be avoided as part of a healing and preventative protocol.
To take a deeper, guided dive into how to thrive with an MTHFR variant, check out Hey MTHFR Academy. This 16-week online course will give you the tools you need to harness the power of epigenetics and befriend your MTHFR gene.