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How Going Grain-Free Can Change The Game For Autoimmune Warriors

On this blog we have frequently discussed gluten-free diets, and we have focused on keeping things dairy-free as well. These kinds of diets are often implemented to manage chronic illness or inflammation. And from the various dietary approaches like the low FODMAP diet, Whole30, AIP, and Paleo, there is one element they all have in common: grains are out of the question. In the following post, courtesy of Mariu Cabral (more on who Mariu is below the blog post), we will take a closer look at why a grain-free diet is a great option for those dealing with chronic illness. Or anyone looking to keep their gut happy and healthy!


Grains, essentially the seeds of grasses, encompass everyday staples like rice, wheat, corn, and oats. When we recognize that grains are seeds, it helps us understand why they may not always sit well in our gut.

Seeds, naturally seeking survival, employ a defense mechanism called lectins, and there are many different types. They all have varying effects to our health, but thankfully not all are as highly poisonous as those in castor beans (those could literally kill you). The lectins present in the grains and legumes we commonly consume can disrupt our gut health, leading to leaky gut, an imbalance in gut bacteria, nutrient absorption issues, and overall inflammation.

Gluten is the most studied and the most dangerous lectin in our everyday lives. It is found in wheat, barley, and rye. However, other grains (like rice, oats, and corn) and pseudo grains (such as quinoa and buckwheat) also contain lectins that can compromise gut health. Examples include:


Gluten Containing Grains: Wheat, Barley, Kamut, Spelt, Rye

Gluten Free Grains: Corn, Fonio, Millet, Oats, Rice, Sorghum, Wild Rice

Health and Disease Start in our Gut

Intestinal Permeability, or ‘Leaky Gut,’ is when the tight junctions of our intestinal wall weaken or “open up”, allowing food particles to cross over from the gut and into the bloodstream. Research indicates that leaky gut triggers many autoimmune conditions and chronic diseases. Lectins exacerbate this condition through mechanisms like inhibiting proteases (the enzymes that break down proteins) and increasing zonulin production, a protein that loosens tight junctions in the gut.

Some of us are more sensitive than others when it comes to lectins. If you do not have celiac or an autoimmune disease, you might even go through life without a single symptom. Or you may not connect certain symptoms like inflammation to your gut and gluten. Unfortunately, the reality is that all lectins have a negative effect, big or small, on our intestinal barrier.

Living a grain-free lifestyle, or reducing our consumption of grains, has tremendous benefits for our health and well-being. And if you have an autoimmune disease of any kind, you will greatly benefit from removing them from your diet altogether.  

Mariu Cabral is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (NTP) and a certified Autoimmune Protocol Coach specializing in gut and hormone health. She has an extensive background helping women struggling with IBS, IBD, Reflux, and other gastrointestinal disorders using foundational support. As an immigrant from Venezuela, Mariu brings her cultural background and her nutrition knowledge to empower her clients to enjoy their cultural foods without shame or guilt, as she recognizes the importance of culture and community for overall well-being.

Mariu is also the creator of  'The No Bloat Code' a practical online course that teaches the ins and outs of gut health to support conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, heartburn, and SIBO.

RESOURCES: Download for free Mariu’s Homemade Remedies for Gut Troubles.



    1. Ballantyne, S. (2014). The Paleo Approach. Victory Belt Publishing.

    2. Arrieta, M. C., Bistritz, L., & Meddings, J. B. (2006). Alterations in intestinal permeability. Gut, 55(10), 1512–1520. doi:10.1136/gut.2005.085373