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A Common Food Ingredient: A Trigger For Autoimmune Disease

It is not disclosed on labels, but may trigger a leaky gut.

A new research paper has raised concern regarding a commonly used food ingredient that may trigger celiac disease in genetically susceptible people. Equally as alarming is the fact that the ingredient does not have to be identified on food labels

The ingredient is called microbial transglutaminase and is actually classified as a “processing aid” and not an “additive”. Because of this, it escapes labeling laws.

Microbial transglutaminase (MTG) is widely used in food products including dairy products, meats, baked goods, desserts and low-calorie foods. It improves characteristics such as texture, taste and shelf life of foods.

MTG and Gluten

MTG is attracted to and binds gluten in food. When the food is consumed, a compound is created which makes the intestine “leaky”. The MTG-gluten compound sneaks in  through the leaky gut and triggers an immune response. This immune response makes the body react to gluten/wheat in individuals who are genetically susceptible to celiac disease. This means it may activate celiac disease.

How do you know if you are susceptible to celiac disease if you haven’t had a genetic test? You don’t. How do you know if this ingredient is in a food? You don’t.

Cause for concern

Celiac disease is on the rise. About forty percent of the population carry a gene that puts them at risk for celiac disease. Of that 40%, about 5% will go on to develop active celiac disease. The problem is, we don’t know who will be in that 5%. Could MTG put them there?

A call for change

Because of the potential health risk to so many people, several scientists and regulatory authorities have called for declaration of MTG on labels.

The future

The information in the research paper is alarming . It introduces us to MTG, an undeclared ingredient that increases the immune potential of gluten ( it makes it more likely to cause a reaction). In susceptible individuals this may be a trigger to activate celiac disease, a lifelong autoimmune condition.

Food for thought

A few questions to ponder with this information. Could other food ingredients trigger autoimmune disorders? Because MTG can also be produced by our gut bacteria, can an imbalance in gut bacteria produce increased MTG and trigger autoimmunity? What other  ingredients are in our food that are escaping labeling laws?  Clearly, more research needs to be done to further clarify the risks associated with this common food ingredient and policy changes need to occur that require labels to include all components of the food we eat.

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“I have been a patient of Dr. Amy Burkhart for several years. I suffer from Crohn’s disease and was having difficulty in my daily life. After visiting many doctors, all of whom were unable to help me, Dr. Burkhart took the time and patience to create a plan which brought me back to health. I still follow her plan to this day and have been living a normal healthy life. Dr. Burkhart listened to my symptoms along with listening to me, she took her time in preparing a plan which led me to the road for recovery. I cannot thank Dr. Burkhart enough, and I would recommend her to anyone.”

8 months ago

Stone Brewing company Stone Brewing - Napa opened recently in Napa in an historic building adjacent to the river. A great venue to enjoy life! The gluten free menu options are coming (per the manager ) but please visit and inquire about GF options. The more people who show interest and discuss cross contamination the more likely they are to get it right! Wine is available. Maybe they will even consider a GF beer! . ... See MoreSee Less