Where gluten is found and what gluten is used for?

Gluten is a protein that occurs naturally in wheat, barley, rye and some other cereal grains. These grains have been part of the human diet for thousands of years. Gluten helps bread dough to rise, and improves the texture of bread and other grain products such as pasta, noodles, biscuits, breakfast cereal and many others.

Gluten is also hidden in many other food ingredients, even if they’re not made from cereals that naturally contain this protein. Products that commonly contain hidden gluten include sauces, marinades, gravies, processed meats, vegetarian meat alternatives, and spices. Other sources of hidden gluten include products manufactured on equipment that also processes gluten-containing foods, and certain ingredients used to produce dietary supplements.

The wide spectrum of gluten sensitivities

Unfortunately for some of us, approximately one in 13 individuals suffer from some form of gluten sensitivity 1,2. That’s many millions of people affected worldwide. While the problem appears to be more common in people from European backgrounds, it’s also found in South Asia, the Middle East and some parts of Africa. People of all ages can be affected, but women are more likely than men to report being sensitive to gluten.

The symptoms of gluten sensitivities range from mild digestive problems to seriously debilitating cramps, bloating, diarrhoea, fatigue, headaches to skin eczema and rashes. Not surprisingly, people who have gluten sensitivity typically experience lower quality of life.

When we eat foods that contain gluten, the body’s pancreatic enzymes (pepsin and trypsin) which lay in the stomach and small intestine respectively cannot fully digest the gluten. They can only partly break it down, leaving smaller sections called ‘peptides’. Unfortunately, these smaller peptides cause several problems for people in the spectrum of gluten-sensitivity. They may be directly toxic for intestinal cells, or provoke an autoimmune response that leads to inflammation and bloating, and eventually to intestinal damage.

Australian scientist Professor Hugh Cornell and his colleagues studied gluten for many years. They showed how gluten is made up of complex peptides that can affect individuals on the spectrum of gluten sensitivities. This important research was followed by the discovery that a very specific papaya (pawpaw) enzyme could break down the gluten peptides. The enzyme, which is found in the latex of the papaya (scientific name Carica papaya), is called caricain.

1- Anderson et al. 2013. A novel serogenetic approach determines the community prevalence of celiac disease and informs improved diagnostic pathways. BMC Med 2013;11:188.
2-CSIRO Food and Health Survey- Australia, December 2010-February 2011

Caricain is a natural enzyme that fights toxic gluten peptides

The milky sap or latex from the unripe papaya fruit contains several unique protein-digesting enzymes, including papain, chymopapain, QCT and caricain. These enzymes are the reason why papaya latex was traditionally used to tenderise meat, and why it’s now used to treat commercial beer, degum natural silk, and in the production of chewing gums.

Professor Cornell analysed how well these papaya latex enzymes could break down the toxic and immunogenic peptides formed when gluten is digested in the human body. He discovered that caricain was the main enzyme in papaya latex responsible for the detoxification of gliadin. Further studies showed that caricain works by cutting the toxic gluten peptides into much smaller fragments. These much smaller fragments can pass through the rest of the human digestive system without causing the symptoms or damage commonly suffered by gluten-sensitive individuals.

How GluteGuard works