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Digestive Enzymes- Do They Really Help You Digest Gluten?

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About a week ago we published an article talking about what we should do when we’ve been “glutened”. If you haven’t read it yet, check it out here.

One of the things we mentioned in the article that is supposed to help you when you’ve been exposed to gluten is the use of digestive enzymes.

“Adding certain types of enzymes — enzymes your body might lack — enables more complete digestion, and will help to prevent symptoms from food intolerance, according to the enzymes’ marketing materials.” Says Jane Anderson from the website About.com. The companies that make and sell those enzymes base their science on this concept.

In other words, the enzymes will help your body break down the protein of gluten, allowing you to have a better digestion if you are exposed to gluten.

However, these digestive enzymes have not been clinically tested which means it hasn’t been able to assess their efficacy and safety in people with celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

According to Dr. Stefano Guandalini, professor of pediatrics and director of the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center, “the amount of gluten that these would be able to digest is ridiculously low. For people with celiac disease, these are something to completely avoid.” (Source: Celiac.com)

Despite the fact that these enzymes have not been clinically tested and that experts say it can only digest a very low amount of the gluten protein, there are numerous reviews on the internet from users who say they prevent the nasty symptoms of gluten exposure.

As you know we are not doctors or health specialist of any kind, but judging by the concept of what enzymes do in our bodies we believe those enzymes can be helpful when we go out to eat and there is a risk of cross-contamination. We wouldn’t rely on them to have a slice of regular pizza, for example, specially if you have celiac disease.

A customer from Amazon.com has left the following review on the Gluten Defense Enzyme:

If you have Celiac disease or anything severe, it should be noted that these aren’t for large amounts. I have severe reactions to gluten, even trace amounts make me very sick and these are really helpful. I’m not as nervous to eat in restaurants as I once was. They are excellent for when I go out to eat and am not sure of the food. I take them about ten minutes before I start eating and haven’t noticed any of the symptoms I get with even small amounts.”

Though, there are people satisfied with the enzymes we believe it’s important to point out that currently the only treatment for celiac disease is a completely gluten-free diet and that it can be very dangerous to assume these enzymes can replace your treatment.

To conclude, stick to your gluten-free diet and have the digestion enzymes with you when you are traveling or when you go out to eat. Don’t rely on Dr. Google, remember to consult your doctor before taking the enzymes.

Sources:

  • http://www.foodsmatter.com/allergy_intolerance/food_intolerance/articles/digestive_enzymes.html
  • http://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/eat-run/2013/04/23/digestive-enzymes-help-or-hype
  • http://theceliacmd.com/the-celiac-md-articles/are-supplements-to-digest-gluten-safe-and-useful/
  • http://www.celiac.com/articles/22726/1/Can-Enzyme-Supplements-Really-Break-Down-Gluten/Page1.html
  • http://celiacdisease.about.com/od/faqs/f/Digestive-Enzymes-Gluten.htm

 

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