New study: Celiac disease is more than gluten intolerance

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woman with abdominal pain(NaturalHealth365) While gluten has long been identified as the culprit behind celiac disease, a new study reveals the 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 recently 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 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.

Non-gluten proteins can cause similar troubles in the digestive tract

In this latest 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.

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 plenty of whole grains like, organic 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. To learn more about the health benefits of whole grains (plus much more) – I suggest you look at the resources available at the Kushi Institute.


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  • Josh Kelley

    Right now, it can be pointed out that no one in the medical field knows what’s causing the health care crisis. I think we have to look no further than our diet. Human disease shifted from bacterial infections to degenerative disease. For the most part it is due to our high wheat diet.

    Few individuals are consistently able to eat just enough to function at a high level. Americans overeat due to the high amount of addictive wheat products in their diet. At the same time they are deficient in nutrients as these products provide empty calories.

    Wheat encourages fat storage, insulin sensitivity, cholesterol/triglyceride production and chronic inflammation.

  • Nurse Lori

    It’s important to understand that undiagnosed celiac disease is the cause of many long-term health problems. This list is extensive starting with multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, dermatitis, anemia, infertility and neurological problems. Then there are the everyday symptoms such as fatigue, mood changes, sleep disorders and stomach aches.

  • Toni B

    From this article it seems that gluten is a larger problem. If this leads to the documented health issues, then there is a significant risk consuming wheat products. This article is a wake-up call, which shouldn’t be ignored.