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Are Industrial Food Additives to Blame for Soaring Rates of Autoimmune Disease?
Jefferson Adams is a freelance writer living in San Francisco. His poems, essays and photographs have appeared in Antioch Review, Blue Mesa Review, CALIBAN, Hayden's Ferry Review, Huffington Post, the Mississippi Review, and Slate among others.
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Celiac.com 01/19/2016 - Cases of autoimmune diseases are on the rise, and mirror the expansion of industrial food processing and increased use of food additives. The intestinal epithelial barrier, with its intercellular tight junction, controls the balance between tolerance and immunity to non-self-antigens.
Recently, a team of researchers set out to assess the role of tight junction dysfunction in the pathogenesis of autoimmune disease.
Researchers Aaron Lerner and Torsten Matthias are associated with the Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition Unit, Carmel Medical Center, B, Rappaport School of Medicine, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Michal in Haifa, Israel, and the Aesku Kipp Institute in Wendelsheim, Germany.
Numerous common industrial food additives increase tight junction leakage. These include glucose, salt, emulsifiers, organic solvents, gluten, microbial transglutaminase, and nanoparticles, widely and increasingly used in industrial food production.
According to manufacturers, these additives improve food quality. However, all of the aforementioned additives increase intestinal permeability by breaching the integrity of tight junction paracellular transfer.
So why is this a problem?
Well, it turns out that tight junction dysfunction is common in multiple autoimmune diseases, and the central part played by the tight junction in autoimmune diseases development is widely described.
The researchers hypothesize that commonly used industrial food additives undermine human epithelial barrier function, which increases intestinal permeability through the opened tight junction, resulting in entry of foreign immunogenic antigens and activation of the autoimmune cascade, and the development of autoimmune conditions, such as celiac disease.
The team is calling for additional research on the connections between food additives exposure, intestinal permeability, and autoimmunity interplay to expand our knowledge of the common mechanisms associated with autoimmune progression.
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