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Science validates enzymes as gluten-busters

Devin Houston, Ph.D.

The gluten-free/casein-free (GFCF) diet has helped many families who deal with autism and the associated GI difficulties, but requires a good deal of effort. Much of that effort is often defeated by unknown contamination of foods with wheat and dairy. Kids often refuse to abide by the constraints of the diet when social pressures intrude (darn those teen years!). But many within the autism community preach the sanctity of the GFCF diet; "do it and put up with it".

By the time I started my own company in 2001, I knew enough of the science to be convinced that certain combinations of fungal-derived proteases could alleviate the problems of wheat and dairy intolerance. While the finding of DPP IV peptidase in commercial enzyme blends was significant, I knew DPP IV alone would not be sufficient as a stand-alone product. Combining DPP IV with other proteolytic enzymes produced a synergistic formulation that broke down gluten, casein, soy and other food proteins in a manner that could decrease the intolerance. I have preached this for eight years now; many have listened and benefited, but others have scoffed.

Now we have evidence from third party research verifying the science of our views. An article in PLoS One, a peer-reviewed journal available online, described decreased gluten toxicity by a combination of DPP IV and another food-grade enzyme, even in the presence of competing proteins such as casein. Gluten is a protein that is extremely difficult for the body's own enzymes to degrade. The addition of "outside" enzymes that are acid-stable cause gluten and other food proteins to "chopped" up more thoroughly. By eliminating the number of large peptides that would ordinarily remain, the chance of immunological response is diminished. This in turn prevents the damage to the gut wall that could occur during intolerance.

This is good news, but many will still insist that there is no alternative to the GFCF diet. My hope is that evidence such as this will open minds and increase the benefits that so many already enjoy.

- Devin Houston
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