The New Pill That Lets You Eat Gluten Without Problems…Or Does It?

Posted on August 13, 2012

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My style of health care is one that goes to the source, not the symptom. After being told “that’s just the way you are (yeast overgrowth everywhere in my body)” and “you’ll just need to take the pill (antacid purple pill thingy) daily for the rest of your life” at the age of 20 – I was beyond turned off by Western medicine. Maybe a different Western doc would have approached my healthcare differently, but regardless, I shifted to a naturopath for my primary care & have truly turned my health around 9000% (if it’s possible to turn health around that many times) since doing so.

Which is why supplements like this are so beyond my comprehension. I heard that Jenny McCarthy, loud-mouth for alternative healthcare methods, has been promoting Glutenease, an enzyme you take when you plan to eat a gluten-containing food and don’t want the ill-effects of the gluten. sighhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh… Here’s the deal why you should not fall prey to thinking a pill is going to solve the problems with gluten.

First, what are the ill-effects of gluten?

Let’s start with the ones you notice immediately – stomach aches, diarrhea, gas, bloating big enough to make you look pregnant, fuzzy thinking, headaches, itchy skin, yeast infections, muscle aches, clogged ears, sleepiness, & mood swings – just to name a few that come to mind.
Then the ones that aren’t so noticeable – 17 days of irritated stomach as the gut lining replaces itself, SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) that causes heartburn & other issues, constipation/diarrhea, decreased immunity, joint aches, poor recovery from workouts, infertility & miscarriage, increased risk of death (especially via heart disease or cancer), those are just what I can think of off the top of my head.

Ok, so is there any benefit to eating gluten?

There is not a single nutrient in gluten-containing foods that you cannot get from another source. And think that bread/cereal/whatever you’re eating is great because it’s got vitamins and minerals? They’re synthetically added – and studies are showing that the body doesn’t know quite what to do with synthetic vitamins as compared to those from veggies, for example. Take a look at the table below, found in this AJCN’s paper on “Origin’s & Evolution of the Western Diet; Health Implications for the 21st Century”

This outlines the nutrient content of various food groups, I have highlighted the top 2 places to find each particular nutrient.  TABLE 4

Mean nutrient density of various foods groups (418-kJ samples)1

Whole grains (n = 8) Whole milk (n = 1) Fruit (n = 20) Vegetables (n = 18) Seafood (n = 20) Lean meats (n = 4) Nuts and seeds (n = 10)
Vitamin B-12 (μg) 0.00 [4] 0.58 [5] 0.00 [4] 0.00 [4] 7.42 [7] 0.63 [6] 0.00 [4]
Vitamin B-3 (mg) 1.12 [4] 0.14 [1] 0.89 [3] 2.73 [5] 3.19 [6] 4.73 [7] 0.35 [2]
Phosphorus (mg) 90 [3] 152 [5] 33 [1] 157 [6] 219 [7] 151 [4] 80 [2]
Riboflavin (mg) 0.05 [2] 0.26 [6] 0.09 [3] 0.33 [7] 0.09 [4] 0.14 [5] 0.04 [1]
Thiamine (mg) 0.12 [5] 0.06 [1] 0.11 [3] 0.26 [7] 0.08 [2] 0.18 [6] 0.12 [4]
Folate (μg) 10.3 [4] 8.1 [2] 25.0 [6] 208.3 [7] 10.8 [3] 3.8 [1] 11.0 [5]
Vitamin C (mg) 1.53 [3] 74.2 [5] 221.3 [7] 93.6 [6] 1.9 [4] 0.1 [1] 0.4 [2]
Iron (mg) 0.90 [4] 0.08 [1] 0.69 [2] 2.59 [7] 2.07 [6] 1.10 [5] 0.86 [3]
Vitamin B-6 (mg) 0.09 [3] 0.07 [1] 0.20 [5] 0.42 [7] 0.19 [4] 0.32 [6] 0.08 [2]
Vitamin A (RE) 2 [2] 50 [5] 94 [6] 687 [7] 32 [4] 1 [1] 2 [3]
Magnesium (mg) 32.6 [4] 21.9 [2] 24.6 [3] 54.5 [7] 36.1 [6] 18.0 [1] 35.8 [5]
Calcium ((mg) 7.6 [2] 194.3 [7] 43.0 [4] 116.8 [6] 43.1 [5] 6.1 [1] 17.5 [3]
Zinc (mg) 0.67 [4] 0.62 [3] 0.25 [1] 1.04 [5] 7.6 [7] 1.9 [6] 0.6 [2]
Sum rank score 44 44 48 81 65 50 38
  • 1 Food types within food groups are based on the most commonly consumed foods in the US diet (135, 136). Values in brackets represent relative ranking (7 = highest; 1 = lowest). The micronutrient concentrations for each food group were derived from reference 64. RE, retinol equivalents.

If you can find all these nutrients in meat, seafood, vegetables, and fruits – why would you EVER *need* to eat grains, which were far less nutrient dense than the other categories of food? Fact is, food either leads you toward health or towards sickness, there’s no ‘neutral’ food. Ok, so I can hear it now. “all things in moderation!” (gag me with a gluten-free breadstick-that’s the biggest cop-out of all time…

…or, this excuse, which I can sort-of get behind more than I can the ‘moderation’ one…”but what about those special treats?” Ok, I have a treat from time to time too – but gluten is so horrid on the gut that I would never, ever, ever eat it again knowingly. No treat is worth that. Which of course, dovetails right into the Glutenease folks’ product – for when you want to be able to have the gluten treat without the horrid side effects I mentioned above.

BUT! There’s always a but! All is not as it seems with Glutenease…

From the product description for Glutenease: (bold & italics are mine) “Enzymedica GlutenEase™; supports people suffering with gluten or casein intolerance. GlutenEase is not formulated to prevent celiac symptoms. GlutenEase contains a modified Protease Thera-blend with an enzyme activity called DPP-IV. Proteases high in DPP-IV activity assist in normalizing inflammatory response to the gluten peptide, thus better digesting and utilizing gluten containing foods. This proactively supports the gut, allowing proteins to be properly broken down and absorbed in their digested state; broadening the potential food groups a person may eat. GlutenEase may also be used by those who wish to remain on the GFCF diet to ensure complete breakdown of proteins safe and effectively.”

So – you won’t get the gut-destruction symptoms but you’ll still have the cause to deal with. What is the ’cause’ you ask? They say it right on the box. The ’cause’, the ‘root’, the ‘problemo numero uno’ with gluten, is that it causes celiac disease in a whole bunch of the population. Celiac disease should be looked at the END STAGE of gluten intolerance, not as something DIFFERENT from what folks like me got diagnosed with, “non-celiac gluten intolerance.” It’s the same condition, one was just caught early enough that the gut hasn’t been destroyed so far that it can be called celiacs’. 

So while you enjoy your gluten-filled ‘treat’ pizza slice or ‘all in moderation’ glutenous beer, + your little Glutenease pill, your gut is:
**still wearing away its lining, making you struggle to absorb the nutrients in your food (which is why many/most gluten-intolerant folks are nutrient-deficient)
**making your body have allergic/intolerant reactions to seemingly normal foods (ever develop or get tested and be positively intolerant to garlic, chicken, or apples? happens all the time..and its often because your gut is leaking those food particles into your body where they do not belong. heal your gut, you may just heal the bizarre intolerance)
**making you calcium deficient because the gluten sets up a competition with your body for minerals like calcium- and thus – early onset of osteoporosis sets in
**altering your immune function, since the majority of your immunity is housed in your gut…all those with crazy-ass allergies or perpetually ‘catching’ something, raise your hand

Do we need to continue? Let’s bring this home gang: taking Glutenease does NOT prevent the above-list from still happening in your gut if you are intolerant to gluten. Sidenote: there are some folks that actually, truly, are NOT intolerant to gluten. They are FEW and FAR between though. Just because you think you have no issues, does not mean that you are safe to eat gluten, ad nauseum. From a health & performance perspective though for those who actually could eat gluten with no major problems – consider how much more nutrition you’re getting in when you choose to eat from the food groups that contain the most nutrition, as noted in the table above!

Not sure if you have a gluten issue? If a family member does, you probably do too. If you can’t get to a naturopath to get a saliva test done, eliminate it for 30-60 days and then re-introduce…if you have symptoms, you’re likely intolerant. The answer for those with any level of intolerance is complete avoidance. That will likely not change. If you truly can eat gluten with no health effects, consider moderating your dose. Save the money you were going to spend on Glutenease & go buy some organic vegetables or grass-fed beef.

Please share this info! As gluten-free living goes mainstream, there are going to be tons of folks who don’t ‘get’ the details of why gluten can be so bad for health, wellness & performance. Help others with the knowledge you have so we can all be smarter consumers!
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