10 minute read


What is Gluten? What foods have it? What problems Gluten will cause in humans? How to avoid Gluten? What to do next with this knowledge?

This paper answers all these questions. Let us jump into it straight away.


Gluten is a family of protein found in grains like wheat and similar-structured-protein sometimes called by different names are in rye, barley, oats and corn. Humans simply cannot digest this protein because humans do not have enzymes or the stomach structure to breakdown complex gluten protein. This is the primary reason humans do not eat grass. However, ruminant animals [1] (are those who eat grass and can extract proteins and minerals from grass and grass seeds) does have enzymes and special stomach structure [1] to breakdown complex grass, grass-seeds and associated grass proteins [2].


Wheat has a complex class of family tree [3] [4] and comes in many forms. Some of the wheat forms are: Triticum aestivum a.k.a. common wheat from which bread is made and it is also used in cereals, Durum, Turgidum Vulgare wheat, spelt a.k.a. dinkel or hulled wheat, cultivated since 5000 BC, Kamut 1 (triticum turanicum), Triticale, Einkorn [5] [6] [7] [Triticum dicoccum or boeoticum (wild wheat) or Triticum monococcum (domesticated species of einkorn)] a.k.a. emmer wheat (wild einkorn wheat was first domesticated approximately around 7500 BC) or more. All wheat types have Gluten, the only question is the quantity of gluten will vary from type to type.

The most common wheat in the world todays is Triticum aestivum [8] and makes around 95% of world’s wheat production [9]. Durum wheat on the other hand represents 5-8% of global wheat production [10] and is used in pasta/macaroni making. Triticum Vulgare Wheat’s “Germ Oil” [11] is used in cosmetics and personal care product formulations.

The modern day’s wheat has been hybridized, which is different from genetically modified (GMO) modern day technique. GMO use gene splicing techniques. In 20 th century wheat was hybridized with non-wheat plants in a complex process of backcrossing that produced todays BASF’s Clearfield wheat [12]. For this Norman Borlaug in 1970, receives noble peace prize in recognition of his contributions to world peace through increasing food supply [13]. Spelt, Kamut 1 [14] and Triticale has not gone through this backcrossing process. However, they do contain proteins that human body doesn’t have enzymes to digest. Apart from gluten, wheat has many other proteins like gliadin, glutenin, wheat germ agglutinin [15] [16] (WGA), albumin, globulin, etc. These proteins when put through human digestive system creates a complex array of problems that is unique to individual chemistry. The objective of this paper is to highlight the associated research on the wheat molecules and help readers to further read the establish research that is documented here for greater details on each of these topics.

Wheat proteins are divided into monomeric and polymeric proteins, depending upon the length of polypeptides chain [17]. These are classified according to protein solubility properties in various solvents as per Osborne, 1907 [18]. For example, albumin wheat protein is soluble in water; globulin wheat protein is soluble in salt solution; gliadin wheat protein is soluble in 70% aqueous ethanol; and glutenin wheat protein is soluble in dilute acid or alkali; with that as the back drop let us take a quick deep-dive into key wheat proteins.

Gluten is inflammatory to the gut according to Dr. Alessio Fasano, who directs the Center for Celiac Research, specializing in the treatment of glutenrelated disorders, including celiac disease, wheat allergy and gluten sensitivity. Dr. Fasano identified two genes (DQ2 and DQ8) of a cellular receptor called the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) and its association with celiac disease. His books talk in detail about how

1 During the research for this paper we found a study showing usage of KAMUT® wheat and user’s health markers have gone down [25]. It will be unfair not to publish that.

Zonulin, a protein, opens intestine gates and let undigested gluten’s amino acid into the blood serum leading to immune reaction [19] [20] [21]. Dr. Fasano authored the groundbreaking study in 2003 in which he establishes celiac disease rate in United States as 1 in every 133 Americans. Seventeen years past that research that number is growing, indicating collectively something we are not doing right.

Humans have no enzymes to break down wheat proteins into a single amino acid for digestion, it comes in the lower intestine in a small chain of amino acids (unbroken protein structure), which human body assumes as bacterium and releases an immune reaction every time this happens. Because of leakage of undigested protein particles as peptides in the blood, body immune system assimilates an immune attack, leading to issues apart from celiac disease, like skin disorders from eczema to psoriasis and everything in between. List of the skin disorders [22] [23]. Note, skin disorders are also caused out of the context that we are discussing here.


No human can digest gluten. A person can tolerate eating gluten, if it comes out the other end without creating an immune reaction. There are people that fall into this category, which we will classify for discussion purpose as category #5. The other four categories that create problem in humans with the consumption of gluten as highlighted in the below figure.

Broad Types of Gluten Disorders

Category #1 Celiac Disease is a genetic autoimmune disorder triggered by consumption of gluten. When a person with celiac disease eats gluten, the wheat proteins (gluten and others) interferes with the person’s

nutrient absorption process from food they are eating. In a celiac patient gluten damages a part of the small intestine called villi. Damaged villi make nearly impossible for the body to absorb nutrients from food into the bloodstream, leading to malnourishment and a host of other problems that may cause some cancers, thyroid disease, osteoporosis, infertility and the onset of other autoimmune diseases.

Category #2 Non-Celiac Wheat Sensitivity (NCWS) also referred to as “gluten sensitive” or “gluten intolerant”. This group of individuals are sensitive to gluten but not as strong as in the case with celiac disease. If they consume wheat there will be a subtle reaction, like skin blushes, rash, redness (face or other parts). Overtime this could aggravate from mild to severe and can lead to host of other issues in the body. Easiest way to find if you are in this category is to stop wheat for few weeks and see if the symptoms goes away.

Category #3 Wheat Allergy like any other allergy is caused by your body having too many immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies [24] in your blood serum produced by your immune system to attack, control and kill the undigested wheat proteins that has seeped into your blood. This could be verified by a simple blood test [25].

Category #4 Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a large intestine disorder where not all fructose is absorbed in the small intestine. When the eaten food with fructose moves into large intestine, fermentation starts and aggravates IBS. IBS affects around 11% of the population globally [26]. Few IBS symptoms are abdominal pains, bloating, constipation, cramping, diarrhea, gas and more [27]. Again, best way to manage IBS is to identify the food or foods that are creating IBS and then remove those foods from your diet for a positive confirmation that you can do on your own within few weeks. It is to be noted that there are other reasons for IBS [28] apart from the gluten context discussed here.


Gluten is a heat stabilizing compound and it has the capacity to bind and extend the structures around it. When water and flour is mixed, gluten plays the lead role in creating sticky glue-like dough with elasticity.

This makes baked bread rise. In short, gluten adds the determining rheological [29] [30] dough properties in the bread making. This is the reason it is used to give baked items texture, makes wheat products fluffy, gives it a chewy character, gives flavors, provides browning and helps baked products retain moisture.

Agglutinin wheat protein is a toxin produced by wheat to protect wheat seed from insects. In humans this will produce immune reaction for up to six months after consumption of wheat, if you are allergic to this protein or if the unbroken (undigested) protein molecules (amino acids) enter your blood stream.

Wheat germ agglutinin (WGA) [31] is a lectin present is in the kernel of wheat and its main function also is to protect the seed from insects, yeast and bacteria. WGA molecular structure looks very much like insulin and it binds to the human cell insulin receptors producing insulin resistance in the person, which is the root cause of diabetes. Moreover, the blockage of insulin receptors starves cells from getting glucose; this will send signal to the brain for more food, making the infected person cravings for more food [32]. The food cravings will cease to exist for WGA is out of your system, which is approximately four to six months after the last consumption of this protein.

Gliadin and glutenin together represent about 80% of the total proteins in wheat flour and are present in approximately equal amount. Gliadin and glutenin are the most important determinants of the functional and rheological dough properties as stated above.

Gluten within humans also works in suppressing leptin enzyme, which is an adipose tissue secreted peptide hormone. Its main function is to let you know, you are full and eaten enough. This communication is crucial for maintaining healthy metabolic functions. Blockage of this communication pathway results in all kind of problems, as you can imagine. This blockade results in gliadin appetite stimulation. Make you eat more, which is one of the causes of obesity. Eating wheat increases the average person’s calorie intake by 400 calories a day. Gliadin also has opiate-like properties, which make it “addictive” [33]. Moreover, gliadin contains peptide sequences that are highly resistant to gastric, pancreatic, and intestinal proteolytic digestion in the gastrointestinal tract [34]. Gliadin protein is responsible for most of the negative health effects in people who are sensitive to this grass derived protein. Amylopectin-A of wheat is a chemical compound unique to wheat and it is NOT a protein, rather a type of starch. Amylopectin are of type A, B and C. Wheat has Amylopectin-A, which has a huge glycemic load [35] [36] meaning it will release to much of glucose in your blood in a very short span of time. Which is an absolute problem for people with diabetes.

That means, eating two slices of bread will raise your blood sugar more than eating “one sugar treat” of double the amount of quantity, but not made from the wheat!

Amylopectin-A is also associated in the trigger reaction of small LDL particles in blood vessels creating inflammation and leading to huge range of cardiovascular diseases [37]. When wheat is removed from the diet, these small LDL particle levels are reduced by 90% [33].

Gluten like proteins exist in rye, in barley [34] the protein is called as hordein, in oats it is called as avenins and in corn a.k.a. maize the protein is a different class referred to as prolamin [38] [meaning, seed proteins a.k.a. globulins that are NOT soluble in water but are soluble in water-ethanol mixtures] and it is called as Zein.

Gluten Free Alternatives

There are plenty of grain and starch alternatives that by nature do not contain gluten associated proteins and thus free from all the problem and issues as listed above. It is to be noted that the market label of “glutenfree” or “gluten-free diet” is a sham and will contain other forms of the toxins with different names and it is legal to sell them as they do not have gluten in them. We have just learned in this paper that gluten like structures in grass seeds are called by multiple other names.

However, the food items that can substitute gluten grains are:

1. Almond flour 2. Amaranth 3. Brown, white and wild rice. The most common question that comes up… Is rice safe? Rice doesn’t increase the blood sugar levels to the extent wheat does; rice also doesn’t contain amylopectin-A or gliadin. However, rice does have starch, which may contribute to your blood serum glucose levels. Rice have high levels of arsenic [39] due to the conditions in which it grows. 4. Buckwheat 5. Coconut flour; A mixture of almond and coconut flour with psyllium husk powder [40] bakes beautiful healthy breads. 6. Guar gum 7. Millet 8. Pea flour 9. Potato flour 2 10. Potatoes 3 11. Quinoa 12. Sorghum 13. Soy flour 2 14. Teff is a fine grain about the size of a poppy seed in colors of white and red to dark brown. It is an ancient grain of Ethiopia and Eritrea and a staple food in that area.

2 Have starch and will create issues with people that have diabetes. 3 Genetically modified or having pesticides could be another problem that may kill gut bacteria.


The essential nutrients for body are water, amino acids, essential fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, trace minerals and ultra-trace minerals. It is to be noted that carbohydrates are not listed in this list [41].

There are 20 different amino acids [42] that your body needs for growth and to function properly. However, only nine of those twenty amino acids are classified as essential [43] and those are histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine. None of the wheat amino acids are among the category of amino acids needed by the human body.

According to Dr. Mark Hyman, MD, “This new modern wheat may look like wheat, but it is different in three important ways that drives obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, dementia and more” [44].

in this paper and Dr. Hyman lists the three reasons wheat should NOT to be consumed as… (direct quote from his blog site):

#1 It contains a Super Starch - amylopectin A that is super fattening. #2 It contains a form of Super Gluten that is super-inflammatory. #3 It contains forms of a Super Drug that is super-addictive and makes you crave and eat more.

All the three points of Dr. Hyman, M.D., we have logically concluded in this paper also. He also states the three point that we have already concluded


Let us define this via a universal acceptable definition. In five words, it would be

“absence of bad health conditions”

in layman’s terms. Doctors scientifically put this as the following five statements and if you meet any three of the below statements, then you have a metabolic syndrome.

Wide abdominal area? (based upon your height, weight and Body Mass Index (BMI); Fasting glucose is over 5.6 Hb-A1c (122 mg/dl or 6.8 m mol/l); Blood pressure over 135/85 mm Hg; probably readers may not agree with this as it is not matching 2017 recommendation from American College of Cardiology [45] [46]; Triglycerides over 1.7 mmol/L [47] in NZ/AU or 200 mg/dl [48] in USA; HDL is less than 1 mmol/L in NZ/AU or >40 mg/dL in USA;

If any three of these body markers are positively identified (checked), then you have metabolic syndrome. If one or two are checked, you are at the borderline.

So good health is the absence of disease and it could be accomplished by providing the body cells with building blocks of needed nutrients [49] [50] [51] [52] and keeping away from the inflammatory foods.
This descriptive article was written and produced for DFSC LLC with an exclusive purpose to educate readers on the topic of wheat proteins. All the discussion points used are well referenced for additional reader analysis. All rights reserved!