Kiwifruit could combat gluten intolerance

Posted July 27, 2020

New Zealand researchers are investigating whether kiwifruit could help people with coeliac disease digest gluten – and the lab results are looking promising.

The research, which is being done at the Riddet Institute, involves testing whether natural enzymes in the fruit can break the gluten proteins into smaller pieces so they don’t trigger an inflammatory response.

Actinidin, a natural enzyme found in kiwifruit is looking promising, with researchers finding it can break down the gluten into smaller and more manageable pieces in the lab.

The research team is currently testing actinidin on models of the human digestive tract. More research will show whether actinidin can break down gluten in the human gut. 

About 60,000 to 70,000 New Zealanders have coeliac disease, while about 10% of Kiwis have a sensitivity to gluten.

The disease sees the body produce antibodies to certain peptides produced from the digestion of gluten. Those antibodies then cause an inflammatory reaction in the small intestines of those people who are “allergic” to gluten.

Kiwifruit is also full of Vitamin C and a good source of dietary fibre, boosting immunity and digestion.

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