The new suspects are a family of proteins called amylase-trypsin inhibitors, or ATIs. While they make up only four percent of the proteins in wheat, ATIs can trigger powerful immune reactions that can spread from the gut to other tissues in the body, such as the lymph nodes, kidneys, spleen, and even the brain. ATIs are also shown to inflame pre-existing chronic conditions. And, ultimately, ATIs contribute to the development of gluten sensitivity.
At this time, it’s not entirely clear how much of a role ATI proteins play compared to gluten. We know from previous research that people with symptoms of gluten sensitivity have been shown to react to several different types of gluten, as well as lectins and agglutinin.
The evolution of understanding wheat sensitivity
It used to be celiac disease was the only recognized immune reaction to wheat. Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition that affects a small percent of the population and requires medically invasive diagnostic criteria. Only recently has mainstream medicine begun to accept non-celiac gluten sensitivity. For decades, patients who tested negative for celiac disease or even gluten sensitivity (standard testing is severely limited) have been told “It’s all in your head.” Today, the scientific legitimacy of an immune reaction to wheat is growing.
Research continues and in the future, your doctor may recommend an “ATI-free” diet instead of a gluten-free diet. Either way, if you react to gluten, avoiding it is the best choice for your long-term health.
Symptoms of gluten sensitivity
Symptoms of gluten sensitivity can include digestive issues such as abdominal pain and symptoms similar to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Common symptoms not related to the gut include:
Headaches, joint pain, eczema, brain fog, and a number of dysfunctions related to the brain and nervous system.