Welcome! This blog contains research & information on lifestyle, nutrition and health for those with MS, as well as continuing information on the understanding of the endothelium and heart-brain connection. This blog is informative only--all medical decisions should be discussed with your own physicians.

The posts are searchable---simply type in your topic of interest in the search box at the top left.

Almost all of MS research is initiated and funded by pharmaceutical companies. This maintains the EAE mouse model and the auto-immune paradigm of MS, and continues the 20 billion dollar a year MS treatment industry. But as we learn more about slowed blood flow, gray matter atrophy, and environmental links to MS progression and disability--all things the current drugs do not address--we're discovering more about how to help those with MS.

To learn how this journey began, read my first post from August, 2009. Be well! Joan

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Zonulin and gluten: the link to the blood brain barrier

May 18, 2011 at 2:49pm

Dr. David Hubbard discussed research into zonulin in his presentation at the Hubbard Foundation conference.  As many of you know, the Hubbard Foundation recommends a gluten-free diet to maintain endothelial integrity and a healthy blood brain barrier.

Another neurologist named David--Dr. David Perlmutter-- also recommends a gluten free diet.  Here is his newly published book, Grain Brain  http://drperlmutter.com/about/grain-brain-by-david-perlmutter/

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 and seeds 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--


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.


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