Celiac disease is more than a gluten intolerance, science confirms

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woman with abdominal pain(NaturalHealth365) While gluten has long been identified as the culprit behind celiac disease, science has confirmed that this autoimmune disorder may be triggered by other wheat proteins, as well.  This wheat protein, and related alcohol-soluble proteins (called prolamines), can also be found in rye and barley.

The study, published in the Journal of Proteome Research by scientists at the United States Department of Agriculture and Columbia University, took a closer look at the remaining 25 percent of wheat proteins to determine whether they also caused problems for celiac disease patients suffering from gluten intolerance.

Celiac disease patients MUST make every effort to heal the gut

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that inhibits absorption of essential nutrients in the small intestine, causing inflammation of the intestinal tract and other gastrointestinal issues. Gluten, the protein found in wheat, barley and rye that gives dough its elasticity, is known to trigger the reaction in celiac disease sufferers.

Just as certain disease-causing agents or foreign substances will cause the body to produce antibodies against them, certain proteins are known to act like antigens in celiac disease patients, causing the body to produce antibodies against them.

The National Institutes of Health have recognized that the immune system can mistake healthy tissue as a harmful substance, spurring antibody production and launching an autoimmune disorder.  The reaction is not unlike the process that sometimes occurs when transplanted organs are rejected by patients receiving them.

Gluten-free proteins can cause similar troubles in the digestive tract

In this study, researchers examined serum samples from subjects known to suffer from celiac disease and its related symptoms to determine if an immune response would also be sparked by five groups of non-gluten proteins. These additional wheat protein groups included purinins, alpha-amylase/protease inhibitors, serpins, globulins, and farinins.

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Compared to responses of healthy subjects in the control group, celiac patients showed significantly greater antibody reaction to these non-gluten proteins, suggesting a similar intestinal reaction in celiac disease patients could result.

The antibody reaction of study subjects came as a surprise to researchers since treatment for celiac disease has historically focused on gluten. Other non-gluten proteins were not believed to fuel immune response in celiac disease patients – but that assumption is changing.

What are the future implications of this discovery?

The findings are not likely to change the course of treatment for celiac disease patients since most already avoid wheat and related cereal products entirely.  However, some products, such as wheat starch, may warrant a closer look to ensure there is not contamination with non-gluten proteins.

Generally speaking, if you are sensitive to wheat protein, it is best to always avoid consumption.

But, even if you must avoid gluten products, you can still enjoy a modest amount of organic whole grains like, brown rice, millet, quinoa, amaranth and teff.  Obviously, if you’re not familiar with how to prepare these foods, it’s a good idea to pick up a cookbook or take a cooking class to make life easier.

Sources for this article include:

ACS.org
MedicalDaily.com