trigger autoimmune

A Common Food Ingredient: A Trigger For Autoimmune Disease

It is not disclosed on labels but may trigger a leaky gut. If it triggers a leaky gut, could it trigger an autoimmune disease?

Research has raised concerns 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 food? You don’t.

Cause for concern

Celiac disease is on the rise. About forty percent of the population carries 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 the 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.