Possible New Useful Tool for Those Who Can't Tolerate Wheat

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July 18, 2006 | 13,336 views

A new enzyme may provide relief for the 2 million Americans with celiac disease, a condition in which an immune response to wheat gluten and other proteins in rye and barley inhibits the absorption of nutrients and leads to diarrhea and malnutrition.

The enzyme, prolyl endoprotease (PEP), is derived from a common fungus, Aspergillus niger (AN), and was originally developed for use in commercial food processing.

It turns out that PEP also quickly breaks down whole gluten molecules, almost completely, along with T cell stimulatory peptides, which cause celiac disease. The enzyme also works especially well in the human stomach environment.

More Promising Than an Earlier Enzyme

PEP works 60 times faster than another enzyme previously touted as a possible treatment for celiac disease. The previous enzyme also had trouble in the human stomach, as it was not effective in acidic conditions and was inactivated by pepsin, found in the stomach.

Currently, the only way to avoid the symptoms of celiac disease is to avoid wheat, barley and rye, which are all widespread in the U.S. diet. After clinical trials, an oral supplement of the PEP enzyme may provide relief for those with the condition.


As the article states, celiac disease is an autoimmune disease of the gut. For the longest time it was believed that celiac disease was a very rare condition only present in one in 5,000 people. However, even as long as three years ago I have posted studies that show that one in 33 people who exhibit symptoms have celiac disease.

So about 10 million people in the United States alone have some type of intolerance to wheat, or more precisely, the primary protein in wheat, gluten. Gluten is also present in many other grains such as barley, rye, oats and spelt.

The problem with wheat sensitivity is that it is in no way restricted to the gut. There is a problem called subclinical gluten intolerance that has a large number of ways it can adversely affect you.

My girlfriend becomes very sleepy when she eats wheat, so much so that she frequently uses it to help her go to sleep. While this may seem beneficial it is actually not good at all as it is impairing her brain function. She simply cannot think clearly after she eats wheat.

Subclinical gluten intolerance can also be responsible for:

  • Miscarriages
  • Upper respiratory tract problems such as sinusitis, "allergies," "glue ear"
  • Symptoms related to malabsorption of nutrients such as anemia and fatigue (lack of iron or folic acid), osteoporosis, insomnia (lack of calcium)
  • Bowel complaints: diarrhea, constipation, bloating and distention,
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Crohn's disease, diverticulitis
  • Autoimmune problems
  • Rheumatoid arthritis, bursitis,
  • Diseases of the nervous system: motor neuron disease, certain forms of epilepsy
  • Mental problems: depression, behavioral difficulties
  • ADD
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Chronic fatigue

I believe that well over 75 percent of the population should severely limit or avoid grains altogether. Yes, even whole organic grains as they are unlike vegetables and will cause insulin and leptin levels to rise and receptor sensitivity to increase.

So who are the 75 percent that should avoid grains? Anyone with:

  • Diabetes
  • High Blood Pressure
  • High Blood Cholesterol
  • Overweight

Those with these problems, clearly more than 75 percent of the population, I believe are best served avoiding grains until they can normalize that condition and improve their insulin physiology.

As for grains in the human diet overall, there is fairly strong evidence that in Paleolithic times some 10,000 years ago most humans did not consume many grains; they were hunter-gatherers who subsisted mostly on vegetables and meats. But, 10,000 years is a mere blip in a biological sense for humans: over 99 percent of our genetic make-up was in place, in fact, before we ever started consuming grains.

Now many people strongly disagree with this position and tend to use the bible as a resource to defend their position. They counter that if bread was eaten in biblical times what could possibly be bad with it?

I am not a biblical scholar and so cannot comment on whether the words used in the Bible (and translated from original sources) actually mean "grains" or food in some larger sense.

When considered from this perspective alone, it is not too surprising that grains can cause a wide array of health issues. Contemporary humans have not suddenly evolved mechanisms to incorporate the high carbohydrates from starch- and sugar-rich foods into their diet.

I also strongly believe that nutritional typing is a powerful tool to help you identify if you can tolerate grains. Although the population seems to be divided equally into all three types (protein, carb and mixed), most of the patients we see that are sick are the protein types.

The reason for this is that they respond the worst to grains and should have the least amount of grains of any nutritional type. So assuming equivalent lifestyle choices with sleep, exercise and emotional wellness, they are the type who will develop a health problem where the same person who is a carb type may actually get healthier on healthy grains.

That has been my experience and one of the many reasons that I continue to be so impressed with nutritional typing. It helps explain so many observations that were previously complete mysteries.

But getting back to this study, assuming grains are not an issue for you and you are part of the lucky 25 percent of the population who actually does well with them, then this enzyme sure seems useful as it would help break down the gluten protein that causes celiac-type symptoms.

More Information on Celiac Disease

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