Picture of Gluten Strands (gliadin + glutenin molecules)
Picture of Gluten (gliadin + glutenin molecules)

WHAT IS GLUTEN?

Gluten is the stretchy part in your bread dough. No stretch, no gluten. “Gluten” is formed by many different protein units linked together. There are 20 different amino acids that support the body, 11 of which the body can make on it’s own, and 9 of which we must get from food sources. The two classes of small proteins that create the large gluten strands- “glutenin”and “gliadin”, are all individually made from long chains of around 1,000 amino acids. Glutenin proteins form long, chain-like molecules that bond together, while gliadin forms small round shapes that act like ball bearings between the glutenin molecules. Lots of different glutenin and gliadin proteins bonded together form the stretchy substance we know as “gluten”.

What factors are making it difficult for some people to digest Gliadin?

We know that Gliadin is the specific class of proteins that celiac suffers react to. What causes these reactions in some people? Why does it sometimes solicit an autoimmune attack and is it possible to alter the structure of gliadin in beneficial ways? What causes “celiacs” to develop the confused autoimmune response of attacking their own bodies when they ingest gliadin?

FARMING CHANGES GLUTEN STRUCTURE

Many things change the structure of a Gluten strand- types of grains, various hybrids, applications of nitrogen and sulfur fertilizers during crop growth. Even “souring” the finished grains in a lacto ferment alters the composition of the complex proteins that make up “gluten” strands.

SOURING THE GRAINS CHANGES GLUTEN STRUCTURE

If our methods of farming and food preparation affect our ability to process and utilize the “gluten”, shouldn’t we be focusing on how we can render gluten (and gliadin in particular) beneficial to our bodies since our ancestors have been successful at doing that for thousands of years now? Most importantly, if we recognize that “souring” a dough significantly increases the benefit of the grains to our bodies for even the most sensitive people such as celiac sufferers, it may be worth the simple, extra steps it takes to incorporate these methods of preparation into our diets.

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