Is gluten really the enemy?
Wheat has become somewhat of an anti-food recently with many people following gluten-free diets believing that wheat causes them poor health. Gluten, a protein in wheat, is often considered to be the main enemy, and this is certainly the case for people with a gluten allergy known as Coeliac disease. Gluten absolutely must be avoided when diagnosed with Coeliac, and the consequences of not doing so are potentially serious.
But what about those tested negative for Coeliac? Is there a case for avoiding gluten? A new study presented at the United European Gastroenterology (UEG) conference suggested that a group of proteins called amylase-trypsin inhibitors (ATIs) can trigger the inflammation found in autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis, as well as exacerbate inflammation in inflammatory bowel diseases.
ATIs are only a small component of wheat, but pack a powerful punch to the immune system from the gut. It may also be responsible for the yet unconfirmed medical condition known as “non-Coeliac gluten sensitivity” – which these scientists don’t believe is caused by gluten at all, but by ATIs. This isn’t the first time that ATIs have been linked to non-Coeliac gluten sensitivity; an article written for Scientific American three years ago neatly summarises previous studies, and even suggests that the content of ATIs in wheat has increased over recent years.
Future research will need to focus on ATI-free diets, and clinical studies are underway to explore the role of ATIs more.
Read the news release here:
Seb is a writer and blogger of food and nutrition. He holds a bachelors and a masters degree in nutrition science, and has studied sports and exercise nutrition at postgraduate level. He specialises in plant-based nutrition and believes passionately that we can all live with a little less meat.