It looks like a food additive is putting the health of our society at risk. Of course, if we were to ask most food industry experts, they would say, ‘no way.’ But, the science tells a very different (and disturbing) story – especially as it relates to an autoimmune disease called, celiac disease.
For starters: we need to understand the possible dangers associated with gluten – a plant protein found in grains like wheat, rye and barley. For example, with celiac disease patients, gluten can lead to a host of painful side effects including, rashes, joint pain, gastrointestinal upset and weight loss.
The science is really clear: a recent review suggests that a common food additive appears to be a driving factor behind the rising prevalence of this highly disruptive autoimmune disorder.
WARNING: Common food additive linked to autoimmune disorder, researchers say
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that causes a person’s immune system to attack their own small intestine when gluten is ingested. About 1 in 100 people have it.
millions of other people have gluten sensitivity – not diagnosed as celiac, but still associated with a negative reaction to gluten.
Who gets celiac disease? Researchers already know environmental factors contribute to its development in people who are already genetically susceptible. These factors include gluten-containing foods, toxins, antibiotics, vaccines, bacterial infections, surgery, and stress.
Now, in a just-released 2018 review published in Frontiers in Pediatrics, researchers have discovered that the increasing use of a common and largely unknown food additive called microbial transglutaminase has a direct positive correlation with the increasing rates of celiac disease.
Discover the dangers of a ‘hidden’ food additive
Microbial transglutaminase (typically bound to gluten molecules) is a bacterial enzyme that helps hold food together. The researchers note, “Microbial transglutaminase is a food additive, heavily used in a plethora of processed food industries. It is unlabeled and hidden from the public knowledge.”
This means that conventional food manufacturers are using this enzyme in foods like meat, dairy, baked goods, and more – without even having to tell us it’s there!
Now, it turns out that transglutaminase is also produced by our OWN gut bacteria. Our version of the enzyme has a similar structure and comes in a MUCH smaller amount than the enzyme found in industrial foods.
For people prone to celiac disease, this means their immune system ends up attacking the enzyme in its food additive form and in the form created by their own bodies – ultimately leading to intestinal damage.
Why it’s smart to minimize gluten and food additives in all types of diets
If you believe you have celiac disease, it’s important to get tested.
Left untreated, this condition can increase your risk for other health problems, including osteoporosis, neurological conditions, infertility, and cancer.
Even if you simply have gluten intolerance or sensitivity, it’s worth your effort to avoid this plant protein, since it can still cause symptoms such as bloating, gas, abdominal pain, nausea, and diarrhoea.
Unfortunately, like the food additive mentioned above, gluten improves product texture, palatability and shelf life. Plus, it’s found in many foods and not just breads, pastas, and cereals – but, everything from salad dressings to deli meats!
Your best bet? Stick to whole, organic, local and ethically/sustainably raised foods. In addition, avoid products with long shelf lives, and opt for gluten-free options of your favourite baked goods – whenever possible.
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