22
Jan 2014

BETHESDA, Md.—Adding quinoa to the gluten-free diet of patients with celiac disease is well-tolerated, and does not exacerbate the condition, according to a new study published in The American Journal of Gastroenterology.

Researchers at King's College London evaluated the in-vivo effects of consuming quinoa in adult celiac patients. Quinoa, a highly nutritious grain, is traditionally recommended as part of a gluten-free diet. However, in-vitro data suggests that quinoa storage proteins can stimulate innate and adaptive immune responses in celiac patients.

Celiac disease is an immune-based reaction to dietary gluten (storage protein for wheat, barley and rye) that primarily affects the small intestine in those with a genetic predisposition and resolves with exclusion of gluten from the diet.

The study tracked 19 celiac patients as they consumed 50 grams of quinoa every day for six weeks as part of their gluten-free diet. Researchers evaluated diet, serology and gastrointerestinal parameters, as well are detailed histological assessments of 10 of the patients before and after consuming quinoa. Full blood count, liver and renal profile were used to follow the health status of all the patients. Iron, vitamin B12, serum folate and lipid profile were also used to determine any effects of quinoa on the patients' gluten-free diet.

"The clinical data suggests that daily consumption of quinoa can be safely tolerated by celiac patients," said Victor F. Zevallos, Ph.D, from the Department of Gastroenterology. "Median values for all the patients' blood tests remained within normal ranges, and triglycerides and both low and high density lipoproteins decreased. We also found a positive trend towards improved small intestine morphology, particular a mild hypocholesterolemic (very low cholesterol) effect."

Earlier this month, Swedish researchers, along with  researchers from the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University Medical Center, found celiac disease patients who experience chronic damage in the small intestine may be more likely to break a hip than those whose intestinal tissues have begun healing.

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