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How a Probiotic Could Help Celiacs

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The challenge of living with Celiac Disease is disruptive to daily activities and sometimes dangerous.  Unfortunately, wheat products are everywhere, and sometimes even in cosmetics, down to shampoos and conditioners.  As of now, there are no cures for Celiac Disease other than complete and strict avoidance of wheat in all its varieties.  New research has discovered that a type of gut bacteria may be a prospective treatment that is currently in development.

               Commonly found in broad-spectrum probiotics, the strain of gut bacteria called Bifidobacteria is being investigated for its ability to restore balance to the gut microbiome, which is often disrupted with Celiac Disease.  In Celiac Disease, autoimmune processes are triggered by the protein found in wheat called gluten which can include a wide variety of symptoms.  Some of these symptoms can be gastrointestinal, and the chronic inflammation that accompanies Celiac Disease can cause imbalances in the gut bacteria.

               According to the study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, even people who strictly avoid ingestion of gluten have lower amounts of the gut bacteria species, Bifidobacteria.  The study looked closely at members of this species including Bifidobacterium bifdum, Bifidobacterium longum, Bifidobacterium longum, and Bifidobacterium animalis

               The researchers focused on how these gut bacteria affect digestion of gluten proteins.  Gluten proteins contain compounds called glutenins and gliadins.  As the proteins are broken down by gut bacteria during digestion into its building blocks, the amino acid peptides, it signals those with Celiac Disease to release inflammatory responses.

               The researchers extracted the glutenins and gliadins from wheat flour and exposed them to the strains of Bifidobacteria individually and as a group.  They then measured how much of an inflammatory response and cytotoxic response was elicited from the gluten proteins which were broken down into their peptide fragments.  One of the Bifidobacteria strains broke down the gluten proteins more efficiently than the other strains or the collective group.

               This strain, Bifidobacterium longum, also caused the most mild inflammatory response and had the least cytotoxic effects.  The researchers are hopeful that repopulating the gut microbiome with Bifidobacteria will help the intestines break down gluten proteins more successfully and could offer hope for a potential treatment for Celiac disease.  It’s in the very early stages of becoming a fleshed-out treatment, so please don’t  compromise your avoidance of gluten if you have Celiac Disease just because you start taking a probiotic.

               Bifidobacterium longum has many benefits and has been involved in studies that show it reduces symptoms of depression. Check your probiotic bottle—chances are if you’re taking a broad- spectrum probiotic with Lactobacillus strains and Bifido strains, you may already be taking it! You can read more about depression and B. longum here and you can find it in many Bifido-only probiotic supplements


Digestion of Intact Gluten Proteins by Bifidobacterium Species: Reduction of Cytotoxicity and Proinflammatory Responses. J. Agric. Food Chem. 2020, 68, 15, 4485–4492Publication Date:March 20, 2020. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.jafc.0c01421

Pinto sanchez, Maria; Hall, Geoffrey; Ghajar, Kathy, et al. Probiotic Bifidobacterium longum NCC3001 Reduces Depression Scores and Alters Brain Activity: A Pilot Study in Patients With Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Gastroenterology, vol. 153. 10.1053/j.gastro.2017.05.003


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