From antibiotics to gluten intolerance

If, like many of us these days, you have a problem with wheat and other grains containing gluten, and if you feel better when you avoid them, the problem may have started with a course of antibiotics.

In a recent article in The Lancet (Vol 361, 2003: 2152-4) published as a “medical hypothesis,” researchers studied the proteins on the cell surface of the yeast Candida albicans. They found that many of these proteins have striking similarities to gluten, a protein in wheat and some other grains.

Antibiotics are known to lead to an overgrowth of yeast, including Candida albicans. This overgrowth, in turn, leads to an immune response directed against the yeast. But since the yeast protein is so similar to gluten, the immune system could easily become confused and start attacking wheat thereby causing a variety of health conditions that can only resolve when gluten is avoided.

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