At this time of the year, at this holidays season we are surrounded by cookies, cakes, candies and other sweeties that not really good for our digestive system, especially for people with gluten sensitivity and gluten intolerance, it may be downright nightmare.
The most common treatment for gluten intolerance is avoiding food containing gluten; those are wheat, rye, oat, spelt and all pasta, cookies, cakes made with those grains.
Avoiding gluten is quite challenging. It is not just giving up pasta, crackers, cookies (except for Chelsea Clinton's wedding cake). Gluten is common food additive, often used in small amounts to increase protein content, it may be found even in ketchup or ice-cream.
People with gluten sensitivity and gluten intolerance do not have specific enzymes needed for gluten digestion, it may be congenital-they were born with this condition, in this case it called celiac sprue, it is chronic inflammation in the small intestine, or acquired -due to history of intestinal infection or yeast overgrowth that sets stage for chronic inflammation in the small intestine too, producing leaky gut syndrome and food allergy.
Digestive enzymes supplements may help, but it should be specific combination of enzymes in this case, they should withstand acidic environment of stomach: hydrochloric acid and pepsin produced by stomach mucosa.
Digestion of gluten, casein (protein in dairy), soy require presence of some peptidase and protease- protein digesting enzymes. BioCore DPP IV from National Enzyme Company is combination of these enzymes helping in gluten digestion. In nature, gluten proteins are attached to starches-carbohydrates. For complete gluten breakdown, amylase is required in addition to the proteases. The goal is to break up the large gluten molecules into smaller pieces before they leave the stomach.
Digestive enzymes have been used very successfully for gluten intolerance, allowing some patients to completely eliminate gluten-free diet. Others use enzymes only occasionally when they eat food that contains gluten. Both celiac and non-celiac patients find that adding enzymes improves the quality of their life.
A lot of patients with gluten sensitivity have problem with casein and lactose digestion, that is why it is so important to take good quality combination of digestive enzymes for gluten, casein digestion accompanied by amylase (for carbohydrate digestion), lipase (for fats digestion), lactase (for lactose digestion)- broad spectrum of digestive enzymes.
There is scientific data, indicating that following gluten-free diet for long period of time is not good, population of good, beneficial intestinal bacteria such as Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus decreased, while bad bacteria-Escherichia coli increased. This condition will compromise intestinal health and immune system, which makes patients more susceptible for infections and cancer development.
Therefore, managing gluten intolerance with supplemental enzymes would be preferable to a completely gluten-free diet, which will reduce beneficial intestinal microflora.
According to study from the University of Maryland's Center for Celiac Research, the incidence of celiac disease doubles every 15 years, and now we know that celiac disease may be developed later in life. The reasons for gluten intolerance emerging later in life are currently unclear. The amount of ingested gluten, the condition of the intestinal microflora and its change over time, intestinal infections and medications causing yeast overgrowth-all these factors effect condition of small intestine and immune response.
In our office we use Standard Process supplements, we use Multizyme, containing digestive enzymes and pancreatin needed for proper breakdown and absorption of proteins, carbohydrates, sugars and fats. We also use with great success Zymex -for maintaining of healthy intestinal flora and ZymexII, containing papain, bromelain-for protein digestion, amylase, cellulose -for carbohydrate digestion and lipase– for fats digestion. All patients with gluten sensitivity and gluten intolerance should take good quality Probiotic ( friendly bacteria such as Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus) and Prebiotic Inulin- to maintain good condition for beneficial flora in the intestine.