A Natural Protein Fights Gluten Intolerance

Elafin, A natural protein works against gluten intolerance.

07 April 2014 INRA – Paris

baguette with caution tapeScientists from INRA and INSERM (France) in collaboration with scientists from McMaster University (Canada) and the Ecole polytechnique fédérale of Zurich (Switzerland) have shown that Elafin, a human protein, plays a key role against the inflammatory reaction typical of celiac disease (gluten intolerance).

They have also developed a probiotic bacterium able to deliver Elafin in the gut of mice. This innovation, published online in the American Journal of Gastroenterology on 8 April 2014, paves the way to new strategies to treat gluten intolerance.

Celiac disease is an auto-immune pathology that occurs in individuals genetically predisposed to gluten intolerance. Affected people do not harbor the enzymes required to degrade gluten during digestion. Inflammatory reactions are induced by this abnormal digestion which can lead to the destruction of the gut barrier that is essential for nutrients absorption.

Celiac disease causes chronic abdominal pain (diarrhea, cramps…) and predisposes to certain cancers (small intestine, lymphoma). Its prevalence is estimated between 1/500 and 1/300; no curative treatment currently exist and the only solution is a lifelong gluten-free diet.

Scientists from the French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA) and the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM), along with Canadian and Swiss colleagues, have shown that Elafin, a protein with anti-inflammatory properties, is less abundant in patients with celiac disease than in healthy people.

They identified that Elafin is capable of preventing the destruction of the gut barrier during inflammation, and that Elafin is able to interact with enzymes responsible for the abnormal breakdown of gluten: transglutaminase-2. Consequently, Elafin reduces gluten toxicity.

These observations led the scientists to propose a way to deliver the missing Elafin in celiac patients with help of a harmless bacterium that is often present in food: a lactic bacterium strain (Lactococcus lactis), that scientists transformed in order to express Elafin. The use of this strain, developed by the same teams from INRA and INSERM, enables a targeted and local production of Elafin, and represents a recent and innovative strategy.

The first pre-clinical results pave the way to new therapies for Inflammatory Bowel Disease or IBD (no curative treatment exist). In the present study, the scientists have administered this bacterium to gluten intolerant mice.They showed that the Elafin delivered by the probiotic decreases significantly the inflammatory reaction. This strategy, patented by INRA in May 2013, opens promising prospects to treat celiac disease and gluten intolerance in general.

The next step will consist in defining the mechanisms underlying the positive effects of elafin in celiac disease, and in the identification of bacteria that naturally produce proteins with anti-inflammatory properties similar to elafin.   http://presse.inra.fr/en/Resources/Press-releases/A-natural-protein-Elafin-against-gluten-intolerance

  • Full bibliographic information Heather J. Galipeau, Michelle Wiepjes, Jean-Paul Motta, Jessica D. Schulz, Jennifer Jury, Jane M. Natividad, Ines Pinto-Sanchez, Daniel Sinclair, Perrine Rousset, Rebeca Martin-Rosique, Luis Bermudez-Humaran, Jean Christophe Leroux, Joseph Murray, Edgardo Smecuol, Julio C. Bai, Nathalie Vergnolle, Philippe Langella and Elena F. Verdu. Novel Role of the Serine Protease Inhibitor Elafin in Gluten-Related Disorders. American Journal of Gastroenterology, AOP 8 April 2014. DOI : 10.1038/ajg.2014.48

SECRET SOCIETY – The workouts no one knows you’re doing : Secret Workouts |

In an ideal world, you’d hit the gym four times a week and ride your bike to work the other three days. But since you’re a human being living on planet Earth, that’s probably not going to happen anytime soon.

Luckily, we’ve found a few sneaky exercises you can do in secret as you go about your day. Watch this video to see the moves in action, or read on below.

The park-bench press Blast your tris (yes, we just said that) with this do-anywhere arms routine. Stand with your back facing a park bench, then squat and place your palms on the edge of the seat. Bend your elbows to dip yourself down as many times as you can without getting weird looks. (This can also be done on an office chair while you’re on speakerphone.)

The step-it-up Once you’ve finished your presses, use that same bench as an aerobics step. A few up-and-downs and we guarantee your heart will be pounding.

The coffee-line calf raise Got a three-minute wait for your iced vanilla latte? Hold on to the counter and slowly lift and lower your heels for a quick calf and glute workout.

The broken elevator We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Take the damn stairs!

Fabulous Foodie Friday – April 11.2014

Chew On This
Easy homemade granola bars
Cherry-Almond Granola Bars
Erin McDowell
Granola bars–fast, convenient, purse-sized. Just do yourself a favor and don’t read the nutrition info. Lucky for us gals on the go, a healthy version is achingly easy to make at home. Toast up some oats, add a drizzle of honey, a spoonful of almond butter and a handful of your favorite mix-ins, and you’ve got your own granola bars in less than 30 minutes. And they’re good for you too, but that won’t stop us from drizzling a little chocolate on top next time…
Cherry-Almond Granola Bars
A PureWow Original Recipe
Makes 12 bars
Start to Finish: 25 minutes
1 tablespoon unsalted butter3 cups quick oats1½ cups almonds, coarsely chopped1 cup dried cherries

3 tablespoons brown sugar

⅓ cup honey

1½ cups almond butter

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Line a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on both sides.2. Melt the butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the oats and toast until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes.3. In a large bowl, combine the oats with the remaining ingredients and mix well to combine. (This can be done by hand, but it’s especially quick in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.)4. Press the oat mixture evenly into the prepared pan. Pop the pan into the refrigerator or freezer to let the mixture set for 5 to 10 minutes. Cut into 12 evenly sized bars and serve. The bars will keep in an airtight container or wrapped in plastic for up to five days.

Glucosamine Promotes Longevity By Mimicking a Low-Carb Diet

Human chain around sequoia treeThe widely used food supplement glucosamine promotes longevity in ageing mice by approximately 10% due to improved glucose metabolism.  Michael Ristow, M.D., a professor at ETH Zurich, and his team find that the compound does so “by mimicking a low-carb diet in elderly mice reflecting human retirees”.

Glucosamine has been freely available in drugstores for many decades. It is widely used to treat arthritis and to prevent joint degeneration.  Moreover, glucosamine is known to delay cancer growth.  In addition, glucosamine reduces metabolism of nutritive sugars, as was already shown some 50 years ago.

In 2007, Michael Ristow showed that too much nutritive sugar shortens the lifespan of roundworms, a widely studied model organism in ageing research. Conversely, impairing carbohydrate metabolism in these worms was capable of extending lifespan [reference 1].  Unfortunately, the method used in worms at that time unexpectedly appeared to be ineffective in rodents [reference 2], and hence was not studied further.

Extended lifespan by almost 10%

In the recently published study that was performed at ETH Zurich and four German research institutions, Ristow Old Yogiand his colleagues applied glucosamine to roundworms and found that they live around 5% longer than their untreated counterparts.

Next and most importantly, the researchers fed glucosamine to ageing mice in addition to their normal diet. The mice were 100 weeks of age, reflecting a comparative human age of approximately 65 years.  A control group of mice received no glucosamine while otherwise receiving an identical diet. Feeding the supplement to mice extended their lifespan by almost 10%, reflecting around 8 additional years of human lifespan.  Moreover, glucosamine improved glucose metabolism in elderly mice indicating protection from diabetes, a life-threatening disease most prevalent amongst the elderly.

Mimicking a low-carb diet

Additional analyses revealed that glucosamine feeding promotes the breakdown of amino acids in both worms and mice.  Amino acids are key components of proteins, and they become preferentially metabolized in the absence of carbohydrates.  As Ristow points out, “this reflects the metabolic state of a low-carb diet due to glucosamine low carb mealsupplementation alone – while these mice ingested the same amount of carbohydrates as their unsupplemented counterparts.”  This implies that glucosamine would mimic a low-carb diet in humans as well – without the necessity of reducing the uptake of carbohydrates in our daily diet.

Should we now start taking glucosamine supplements?  Ristow replies: “This may be considered a valid option, and yes, I have started taking glucosamine myself.”  However, he points out that “diabetics should perform tight blood glucose control, especially during the first weeks.”  Interestingly, two recent epidemiological studies on more than 77,000 individuals suggest that intake of glucosamine supplements is associated with reduced mortality in humans [references 3, 4]. “Unlike with our longer living mice, such an association is no definite proof of the effectiveness of glucosamine in humans”, says Ristow. He continues, “But the chances are good, and since unlike with most other potentially lifespan-extending drugs there are no known relevant side effects of glucosamine supplementation, I would tend to recommend this supplement.”

Full bibliographic information Sandra Weimer et al.: D-Glucosamine supplementation extends lifespan of nematodes and of ageing mice. Nature Communications, 2014, doi: 10.1038/ncomms4563

What You Need to Know about Nanotechnology and Food Safety


You probably weren’t ready for one more thing to be worried about when it comes to your food, were you? Well you’ll likely be hearing the word nano or nanotechnology in the future. What that has to do with your food is why you want to be aware.  The risks are that we don’t know what they are or might be, and we have no long term testing. With knowledge growing exponentially, it’s imperative that we develop some operating  principles here.
The Center for Food Safety had quite a bit to say about nano foods.
By Jaydee Hanson, Senior Policy Analyst
April 10th, 2014

This is the first of a series of blogs on nanotechnology and how this emerging technology is being applied to foods and food related products.

Nanotechnology has the potential to be used in a broad array of products, including foods and cosmetics. Unbeknownst to us, it is already commonly used in many products that are part of our daily lives. However, those rushing to commercialize nanotechnologies have neglected to develop the legal, and regulatory oversight mechanisms needed to reduce the risks of these technologies. We at Center for Food Safety have identified more than 300 foods and food packaging materials that likely contain engineered nanomaterials, including a range of products from nano silver plastic containers to nano titanium dioxide coated baked goods. This explosion of nano-enabled food products has many implications for human health, the environment and the food system as we will discuss over the next few months.

What is “nano”?

Nanomaterials are so small that a nanometer (one billionth of a meter) cannot be seen by an ordinary microscope.  A piece of hair is between 50,000 and 80,000 nanometers wide. The incredibly small size gives nanomaterials different chemical, physical, and even biological properties than conventionally sized materials.

Due to their small size, nanoparticles are able to go places in the body and in nature that larger particles cannot.[i]  Nanoparticles in food or food packaging can gain access to the human body via ingestion, inhalation, or skin penetration.  When ingested, their small size allows them to circulate through the body and reach potentially sensitive target sites such as bone marrow, lymph nodes, the spleen, the brain, the liver, and the heart.[ii]  Nanoparticles penetrating the skin can distribute through the body via lymphatic channels.[iii]  By moving into the bloodstream following ingestion and inhalation, particles measuring 1-100nm “can easily cross the blood brain barrier,”[iv] and “produce damage to the barrier integrity.”[v]

Initial scientific studies demonstrate that current nanomaterials already in foods or food contact substances on consumer shelves, such as nano silver, might be extremely damaging to human health and the environment.  Nanomaterials can cause damage to ecosystems by transporting toxic contaminants through the environment, potentially causing cancer and organ damage, and likely exposing workers to new asbestos-like substances.  Chinese researchers claim that nanoparticles used in printing products have already killed workers in China when they were inhaled by the workers.[vi]  Workers applying nanomaterials to food and food packaging materials could also inhale nanoparticles. Studies on animals indicate that nanoparticles like nanotitanium dioxide can cause cancer,[vii] cross the placental barrier from mother to fetus,[viii] and cause lung diseases like mesothelioma.

Much more research on health and safety related to nanotechnology is needed.  Unfortunately, the widespread use of nanoproducts and the fact that they are unlabeled means that consumers are exposed to health risks and are unknowing guinea pigs of this little-tested technology.  Although there is growing evidence of harmful environmental impacts, detecting, tracking, and removing these nanomaterials from the environment continues to be extremely difficult.

Pizza with Caution TapeDespite  significant health, safety, and environmental concerns, many of the world’s leading food companies including H.J. Heinz, Nestle, Hershey, Campbell’s, General Mills, PepsiCo, Sara Lee, Unilever, and Kraft have invested heavily in nanotechnology applications.  It is unclear exactly how many food or food related nano-enabled products are currently available; however, by some industry estimates, the total market for nano-enabled food and beverage packaging alone is expected to reach $7.3 billion by 2014.[ix]

Companies are using nanotechnologies as food additives, as flavor/taste modifers, for preservation through nano antimicrobials, for sprays, for encapsulating dietary supplement ingredients, and many other applications. Nanoclays, such as alumina and mullite are being used as dispersants and anti-caking agents, as well as in plastic bottle linings to prevent CO2 from escaping from beer and other fizzy drinks. Other ingredients being used in their nano forms include iron, titanium dioxide, silver, zinc oxide, and chitosan.

Now is the time to demand that governments around the world act to protect workers, consumers, and the natural world from the commercial drive to rapidly expand this technology.  There remains considerable secrecy around the issue of nanotechnology, including nano materials in foods, making it extremely difficult for the public (and the government) to fully grasp exactly how much production, use, and commercialization of the technology has occurred. The failure to use the precautionary principle with regard to past technological developments in the nuclear, chemical, and genetic fields proves the need for robust regulation of nanotechnology. CFS’s NanoAction program is directly addressing this urgent issue.

In subsequent blogs we will go into greater detail about the use of nano in foods and review which foods already contain nanomaterials; potential health risks of nanotechnology; the U.S. government’s promotion and failed regulation of nanotechnology; and the role of nanotechnology in current international trade talks.


[i] PIRA International, “Nanotechnology in Food Contact Applications,” Webinar November 16, 2010. https://www.smitherspira.com/testing/food-contact/nanotechnology-in-food-contact-applications.aspx

[ii] Jiangxue Wang et al., Acute toxicity and biodistribution of different sized titanium dioxide particles in mice after oral administration, Toxicology Letters 168, no. 2 (2007): 176-185, http://nanosafety.ihep.ac.cn/2007/2007.19.pdf.

Bing Wang et al., Acute toxicological impact of nano- and submicro-scaled zinc oxide powder on healthy adult mice, Journal of Nanoparticle Research 10, no. 2 (2007): 263-276, http://www.springerlink.com/content/8341mm2055271683/fulltext.pdf.

[iii] Christie M. Sayes, et al., Correlating nanoscale titania structure with toxicity: A cytotoxicity and inflammatory response study with human dermal fibroblasts and human lung epithelial cells, Toxicological Sciences 92, no. 1 (2006): 174–85, http://toxsci.oxfordjournals.org/content/92/1/174.full.pdf+html.

[iv] Lloyd’s Emerging Risk Team, Nanotechnology: Recent Developments, Risks and Opportunities, Lloyd’s, (2007), 13, http://www.nano.dtu.dk/upload/centre/nanet/nyheder/lloydsemergingrisksteamreport_nanotechnology_report.pdf.

[v] Thomas C. Long et al., Titanium dioxide (P25) produces reactive oxygen species in immortalized brain microglia (BV2): Implications for nanoparticle neurotoxicity,  Environmental Science and Technology 40, no. 14 (2006): 4346-52, http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es060589n.

Saber M. Hussain, et al., The Interaction of Manganese Nanoparticles with PC-12 Cells Induces Dopamine Depletion, Toxicological Sciences 92, no. 2 (2006): 456-63, http://toxsci.oxfordjournals.org/content/92/2/456.full.pdf.

[vi]  Y. Song, et al., Exposure to nanoparticles is related to pleural effusion, pulmonary fibrosis and granuloma, European Respiratory Journal, Sept. 2009, pp. 559-567.

[vii] See, e.g., Benedicte Trouiller, et al, Titanium Dioxide Nanoparticles Induce DNA Damage and Genetic Instability In vivo in Mice, 69 Cancer Research 8784-8789 (2009).

[viii] See, e.g.,Jeffery A. Keelan, Nanotoxicology: Nanoparticles versus the placenta, 6 Nature Nanotechnology 263–264 (2011)http://www.nature.com/nnano/journal/v6/n5/full/nnano.2011.65.html.

[ix] Innovative Research & Products, Inc., Nano-Enabled Packaging for the Food and Beverage Industry – A Global Technology, Industry and Market Analysis (July 2009), outline available at http://www.innoresearch.net/report_toc.aspx?id=68&pg=107&pd=7/1/2009.

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