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Digestive Enzymes to Break Down Gluten

Updated on April 18, 2013

For those who are gluten sensitive, you know how difficult it is to avoid gluten. Having an enzyme on-hand for accidental consumption of gluten may help.

Even though try as you might to order the right dish when eating out and to have custom instructions to the chef to not put sauce or dressing on your meal, there will be times when trace amounts of gluten is unavoidable due to kitchen cross-contamination. Yes, for certain gluten sensitive individuals, even trace amounts of gluten can have an effect. Read more about gluten sensitivity and Celiac disease here.

Plus many dish is pre-marinated with sometimes gluten containing sauces (such as soy sauce, teriyaki sauces, corn products, corn starch, and many dressings).

And if you eat any food from a package or box, there is sometimes no way to know for sure whether it contains gluten even if you scrutinize the ingredients label. If the list show vegetable protein, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, seitan, food starch, artificial food coloring, food stabilizers, malt extract, dextrins, food emulsifiers, then quite possibly it may contain gluten.

If the box say "gluten-free", then it is better. But even then, sometimes the gluten-free label is not enough. There are some who are sensitive to even the so-called "gluten-free" products.

It is in these situations when certain digestive enzymes taken with the meal help attempt to break down gluten to ameliorate the effects of accidental ingestion of gluten. The key word here is "attempt" to break down gluten. Gluten is among the least digestible proteins. And no enzyme can eliminate it and its effects completely.

These enzymes are not intended for you to take so that you can eat bread and pasta. You still have to avoid gluten as completely as you can. They are there only to help reduce the effects of gluten associated with gluten sensitivity when trace amounts of gluten is unavoidable.

Keep in mind that depending on your level of sensitivity to gluten, these enzymes may work better for some people than others, and may not work at all for some.

Dipeptidyl peptidase IV Help Break Down Gluten

Most gluten digestive enzymes will contain Dipeptidyl peptidase IV (also abbreviated as DPP IV) which helps in breaking down the gluten proteins. GlutenEase by Enzymedica is such an enzyme.

In addition, you want the enzyme supplement to contain a lot of proteases activity. Proteases are the enyzmes that break down proteins into their constituent amino acids. Recall that gluten is a protein. The protease activity of an enzyme are typically measured in units of HUT (Hemoglobin Unit Tyrosine base).

If you do not have an enzyme with DDP IV on hand, there is still some value in taking a regular digestive enzyme as long as it has good protease activity. Read my article on the benefit of digestive enzymes -- even for those without gluten sensitivity, they can be of value.


This is not medical advice and is only opinion at the time of writing in April 2013. Author is not a medical professional and may receive revenue from the display ads within article.


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