An interesting study on quinoa and whether it is suitable for a gluten free diet came out in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in July (thanks to Alex at Food Allergy and Intolerance Ink for alerting me to it).
As TrulyGluten Free-ers, we are aware that all grains contain a type of gluten and that many coeliacs who are not getting well are reacting to these other non-gliadin types of gluten. This is not news to us. It’s nice when it is confirmed though.
Researchers here tested 15 types of quinoa and found that several of them actually tested as containing gluten (they were looking for gliadin as usual, not gluten per se, sighs), albeit at less than 20ppm. But it was there all the same and, as we know from FDA recommendations, even 1ppm is enough to trigger a coeliac response. I wonder if this is because of cross-contamination or because they actually contained gliadin in their protein fraction make-up. It isn’t clear.
Another two types were found not to contain gliadin but to actually trigger the same type of immune response as wheat does in coeliacs.
Fifteen quinoa cultivars were tested: 4 cultivars had quantifiable concentrations of celiac-toxic epitopes, but they were below the maximum permitted for a gluten-free food. Cultivars Ayacuchana and Pasankalla stimulated T cell lines at levels similar to those for gliadin and caused secretion of cytokines from cultured biopsy samples at levels comparable with those for gliadin.
This is BIG news and a confirmation that the grain issue is very real and slowly research is catching up with what our bodies are telling us – and what experts treating coeliac disease with grain-free diets before the 1950s knew all along. I hate having to wait for researchers to do the studies that confirm what we already know about ourselves, but our evidential knowledge is dismissed by albeit well-meaning doctors who have yet to catch up with us!
Every day I hear a story about someone told they cannot possibly be reacting to x or y because it is ‘safe’ or they don’t have coeliac disease when quite clearly they are reacting and they do have gluten sensitivity and quite possibly undiagnosed coeliac disease let down by the adherence to far from 100% reliable testing methods. Ooh, ranting! We have a lot yet to learn it seems and need to keep our minds more open in mainstream medicine when it comes to gluten and allergy/intolerance in general.
Anyway, just two quinoa cultivars found to trigger the same coeliac response is interesting. Is that because there are quinoa varieties that could be safe for us? Or is that because we haven’t yet looked for other types of body response because we don’t know how it happens and therefore what to look for yet?
The powers that be still say that quinoa is safe for coelaics. Personally, I have found most TGFs have a problem with it. I don’t know if we are all using a particular cultivar in the UK/US/Europe as I have reports from all those places, so it’s unlikely to be the same – I don’t know what varieties are mostly grown. Perhaps someone will tell us. For now, I take this as another confirmation that quinoa – and all grains – are not safe for gluten sensitives and, if your villi is not healing, continued consumption of supposedly safe grains could well be the reason why.
You can read the study abstract here.