Jan 9, 2019
Celiac disease may be initiated by an agent used to improve food texture and to literally glue together meat fragments into a more substantial, steak-like product. The agent is microbial transglutaminase, and a review of data about the causation of celiac diease just published in Frontiers in Pediatrics suggests that the increasing amounts of this substance that are finding their way into our food supply may be at fault.
Over 3 million American have celiac disease. It is an inherited autoimmune disorder, and you are 6 times more likely to have it if a close member member is affected. It is characterized by an attack of a person’s own immune system on their gut lining, and it’s triggered by the presence of the gluten protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. Other factors such as stress, infection, or antibiotic use seem to initiate or exacerbate the process.
Although our own systems make transglutaminase, they do so in very small quantities compared with what we can ingest in processed foods. The extra transglutaminase appears to break down any available gluten into small protein fragments that often bind to the transglutaminase itself and then serve to ignite the auto-immmune attack on the intestinal linings.
The FDA has not yet ruled on the safety of transglutaminase as a food additive. The smart money is on avoiding it if possible even if you don’t now have celiac disease.
By federal law, packaging must indicate its presence. Transglutaminase is more likely to be in meat products labeled as “formed” such as “formed turkey thigh roast, “ and it is also found in many baked goods. When dining out, you can ask the restaurant staff about its use in their cuisine.
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Matthias Torsten, Lerner Aaron. Microbial Transglutaminase Is Immunogenic and Potentially Pathogenic in Pediatric Celiac Disease. Frontiers in Pediatrics, 2018; 6 DOI: 10.3389/fped.2018.00389