Sunday, 31 March 2013

Doctor, every time I do *this*, it hurts!

The correct response is either:-

1) Go to hospital and get that broken finger fixed, or
2) Stop doing *that*!

There seem to be a lot of people out there who are having problems with wheat gluten (gliadin), casein and other proteins. As Matt Lalonde said in The Science Behind the Paleolithic Diet, some proteins are harder to digest than others.

Here's a hard to digest protein:-

It's raw albumin (egg white protein). As mentioned in As sure as Eggs is Eggs....., raw albumin is poorly absorbed, compared to cooked albumin. To digest the above protein requires peptidase enzymes (pepsin, trypsin and chymotrypsin) to break the peptide bonds. This has to be done from the outside inwards, so a large, heavily-folded protein takes a long time to break down into individual amino acids. Cooking albumin changes the 3-D structure - this is called denaturing. Cooked albumin digests much faster than raw albumin, which is why it's much better absorbed. Cooked proteins are generally faster to digest than raw proteins, unless they're burned to a crisp on a barbecue!

In a person with a healthy gut, partially-digested proteins are not absorbed, as the molecules are too large to pass through the tight junctions in the small intestine. They just ferment, producing malodorous wind. In a person with impaired gut permeability, partially-digested proteins pass through the loose junctions and get into the blood, provoking an immune response. This is not good, so Keep 'em tight.

People who suffer ill-effects after eating certain proteins may either have the wrong genes (e.g. coeliac disease), or have impaired gut permeability. The former isn't fixable but the latter may be. In the meantime, if eating "X" hurts, don't eat "X"!


Tony Mach said...

Very sensible position. While I am not convinced about the mechanisms, these nutritional problems are real.

The joke ends with the doctor saying: "Then don't do it!". In real life the doctor would say: "I have not read that this problem is caused by that action. In fact, I have read that it is healthy to do this action. So I would recommend that you do more of that action. If it is not getting better, you are not doing enough of that action!"

Rosso said...

Nige, what are your views on plant based proteins as opposed to animal proteins? Something like pea protein has a digestibility of over 90% which can surely be increased even further by proteolytic enzymes and probiotics.

Similarly what about proteins that are pre-digested upon ingestion e.g. Tempeh?

Nigel Kinbrum said...

Plant based proteins are fine. Once digested, all proteins end up as amino acids.

However, see Vegetarians & vegans, listen up!

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