Gluten-free diets have become increasingly popular over the past several years, and it’s widely believed that the protein is responsible for the majority of stomach conditions. However, gluten might not be the sole culprit it has been made out to be.
New research shows that the issue is more complicated and your wheat sensitivity may not be related to gluten at all. Scientists have honed in on a new potential culprit — amylase-trypsin inhibitors (ATIs), a family of proteins that is found in wheat and other grains.
The consumption of gluten is unequivocally dangerous for individuals with Celiac disease and it’s a health condition that gets a lot of attention. However, a sensitivity to ATIs is an equally dangerous health issue that has received precious little attention until now.
According to German researchers, the consumption of ATIs can cause inflammation and trigger strong immune responses in the gut. This response affects numerous areas of the body including the lymph nodes, kidneys, spleen, and brain. It can also exacerbate the symptoms of chronic health conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, multiple sclerosis, and inflammatory bowel diseases.
Although Celiac disease itself is rare (it affects approximately 1% of the population), many people are diagnosed with non-celiac gluten sensitivities. These individuals experience a different type of inflammation than those with Celiac disease, leading Dr. Detlef Schuppan and his Harvard colleagues to speculate that their symptoms may be caused by ATIs rather than gluten. Although following a gluten-free diet tends to alleviate their symptoms, this is likely because gluten and ATIs are often found in the same foods.
“Rather than non-celiac gluten sensitivity, which implies that gluten solitarily causes the inflammation, a more precise name for the disease should be considered,” Dr. Schuppan said, as reported by TIME.
Armed with this new knowledge, studies are being conducted to determine the exact role that ATIs play in chronic health conditions. Schuppan is confident that further research will provide the answer to when an ATI-free diet should be used as part of the medical treatment for people with serious immunological disorders.
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