Gluten And Its Impact On Pets
As I stated in my paper in 2009, more and more dogs and cats are becoming sick and at an alarming rate.
Most commercial pet foods include grains such as wheat, barley, rye, bran, or oat. These grains contain
gluten that veterinarians John Symens and Roger De Haan believe to be the trigger for many of our pets'
illnesses. I believe it also causes musculo-skeletal problems and vasculitis in our animals. Musculo-skeletal problems occur in areas of genetic weakness and/or vascular restriction from an injury.
Gluten is in the endosperm of all grain seeds. Each grain has a different type of gluten (prolamine) and
different levels of "stickiness". Gluten is literally ingrained in a lot of the food we humans--and nowadays
our dogs and cats too--eat every day. In fact, it's the gluten content in flour that gives baked goods their
characteristic stickiness, elasticity, and structure. In the last fifty years, these very characteristics have
become so desirable that plant geneticists and flour producers strove to bump the gluten content in grain
flours from 2% to 60% or higher. While this increase in gluten content pleases the bakers, it is very likely contributing to our pets' worsening health because these same gluten-dense grains are being put into
commercial pet foods. To explain how gluten in our pets' food is detrimental to our pets' health, let us first
discuss what is currently known about gluten ingestion in humans.
There was very little difference between the wheat used in the 1940's and two centuries before. Hybrid-
ization techniques have been used successfully for centuries. Cross two strains of lettuce and you get
lettuce. Therefore, no one tested if wheat hybridization would affect human health. Early research
showed that wheat gluten proteins undergo considerable structural change with hybridization. In one
experiment, 14 new gluten proteins were identified in the offspring that were not found in either parent!
New gluten proteins are created every time hybridization occurs and the modern strains of wheat (Triticum
aestivum) express a higher quantity of genes for gluten proteins that are associated with celiac disease
and whose chromosome counts are as high as 42. The ancient wheat strains, such as einkorn (which is
still grown) has only 14 chromosomes.
As defined by Peter Green, MD, celiac disease is a multi-system autoimmune diesase in which the major
site of injury is the gastrointestinal tract. The injury is initiated by the presence of gluten. Studies at
the National Institute of Health suggest that as many as one out of every hundred people in the United
States and Europe suffer from celiac disease, most of them as yet undiagnosed. Well over 200 gluten
associated diseases (GUT) have been identified. Why? When we eat gluten several times a day, we are
likely to leak some incompletely digested proteins into our bloodstream, even when we are in good health.
If the leakage continues on a daily basis, our bodies will produce excessive quantities of antibodies (IgA
and IgG) against gluten, thus making a gluten-containing diet a trigger to start an autoimmune disease
and keep it going.
The more sensitive people or animals are to gluten, the more this protein will irritate and inflame the
lining of the epithelial wall to a level where holes are created allowing the passage into the bloodstream,
i.e., the Leaky Gut Syndrome. The range and variability of symptoms also suggest that there are many
individual differences from one person to the next, especially in what region of the small intestine that
is affected by gluten. However, IgA and IgG antibodies can now be isolated and tested in stool samples.
Senstivity also depends on the type of gluten. As mentioned above, all grains contain gluten, but wheat
gluten is a supercarb. It begins digestion in the small intestine not the large, and can convert to blood
sugar quicker than nearly all other carbohydrate foods, simple or complex.
Let us now discuss what is currently known about gluten sensitivity in our pets.