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Your Whey Protein and Whey Isolate May Not Be Gluten-Free: Beware “Glutamine Peptides”

No, whey protein isn’t paleo…but it sure is convenient to have a portable, non-perishable, and relatively cheap source of quickly-digested protein for when I don’t have access to real food or the time to cook it.

However, as with any dietary supplement, we must always be on the alert for misleading packaging or adulterants—as white pills and white powders all look basically the same.

This is yet another reason to prefer real food: it’s much harder to counterfeit eggs, vegetables, or a steak than it is to counterfeit pills and powders.

How I Found The Gluten

I purchase unflavored whey protein for several reasons. First, it’s typically sweetened with Splenda (sucralose):

Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part A, Volume 71, Issue 21 January 2008 , pages 1415 – 1429
Splenda Alters Gut Microflora and Increases Intestinal P-Glycoprotein and Cytochrome P-450 in Male Rats
Mohamed B. Abou-Donia; Eman M. El-Masry; Ali A. Abdel-Rahman; Roger E. McLendon; Susan S. Schiffman

“Evidence indicates that a 12-wk administration of Splenda exerted numerous adverse effects, including (1) reduction in beneficial fecal microflora, (2) increased fecal pH, and (3) enhanced expression levels of P-gp, CYP3A4, and CYP2D1, which are known to limit the bioavailability of orally administered drugs.”

“The intake of Splenda by rats significantly reduced the number of indigenous intestinal bacteria resident in the gut, with the greatest suppression for the generally beneficial anaerobes (e.g., bifidobacteria, lactobacilli, and Bacteroides).

“The reduction in intestinal bacteria in this study was accompanied by an increase in fecal pH that typically occurs when there is a decrease in the production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) by colonic bacteria.”

“At the end of the 12-wk treatment with Splenda, numerous alterations were observed that did not occur in control animals, including lymphocytic infiltrates into epithelium, epithelial scarring, mild depletion of goblet cells, glandular disorganization, and focally dilated vessels stuffed with intravascular lymphocytes.

And in case that isn’t bad enough, even the lowest Splenda dose apparently caused a significant increase in body weight.

The second reason: buying whey protein that tastes like a chocolate milkshake or a cinnamon bun (yes, that flavor exists) would just tempt me to consume it instead of real food.

The third reason, and the one most important to this story, is that I can taste if the product has been adulterated. Most whey powders are so heavily flavored and sweetened that they could be made of laundry detergent and no one would notice. And sure enough, upon snapping up a ‘bargain’ from a source I’d never bought from before, I found that it tasted like powdered Ebola virus mixed with oven cleaner. Blech!

What could have been added that made this “100% Whey Protein” taste so terrible? It sure wasn’t whey protein, which tastes sort of like skim milk and sort of like Ricotta cheese.

Trivia fact: Ricotta “cheese” isn’t cheese at all: it’s boiled and pressed whey.

“Glutamine Peptides” Are Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein

I’ll skip forward through several days of research: the horrible taste is hydrolyzed wheat protein, camouflaged under the name “glutamine peptides”. (van Hall et.al. 2000, Shugarman)

Hydrolyzed vegetable protein is produced by boiling cereals or legumes, such as soy, corn, or wheat, in hydrochloric acid, and then neutralizing the solution with sodium hydroxide. Still feel like reaching for those “healthy” Bragg Liquid Aminos?

Hydrolyzed vegetable protein can also taste extremely bitter, which was my first clue.

And here’s another useful fact: since grain proteins (especially wheat) contain a lot of glutamine (hence “glutamine peptides”), heavily hydrolyzed vegetable protein is often a way to sneak MSG into foods without listing it on the label.

The size of the resulting gluten and gliadin fragments depends on how long, how hot, and how acidic the hydrolysis was: it takes many hours at high heat to fully break down proteins into their constituent amino acids. Note that the bitter taste of hydrolyzed protein is “attributed to peptides with hydrophobic character and with a molecular weight of 1000-5000″ (Maningat et.al. 1994). Since amino acids have a MW of 89-204, these peptides are sufficiently large to leave the immunogenic and disruptive gluten and gliadin peptides intact. (For some examples, see Fasano 2011.)

Finally, I don’t want my whey protein cut with cheap, foul-tasting adulterants.

No, I’m not going to “out” the company I bought mine from, because it’s a relatively common practice. There’s even a 100% hydrolyzed wheat protein product that’s been packaged and named to look almost exactly like whey isolate! Caveat emptor.

Conclusion: Avoid Any Product Containing “Glutamine Peptides”

  • “Glutamine peptides” are hydrolyzed wheat protein. They’re cheaper than whey protein, which is why some companies dilute their products with them.
  • Hydrolyzed wheat protein that tastes bitter is nearly guaranteed to contain immunogenic and disruptive gluten and gliadin peptides in their intact form.
  • Therefore, no one should consume “glutamine peptides”—especially not the celiac, wheat-allergic, or gluten-sensitive.
  • Look carefully for “glutamine peptides” on the description and on the label before buying any whey protein, any whey isolate—or any other protein supplement.
  • L-glutamine is different than “glutamine peptides”: it’s a single amino acid, and should be fine to consume. I’ve never seen any added to whey protein, though.
  • Don’t trust the name to tell you what’s inside. I’ve seen “glutamine peptides” hiding in products labeled “Pure Whey” and “100% Whey”.

Live in freedom, live in beauty.

JS


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We Must Reclaim Human Health, Sustainability, Environmental Justice, And Morality From The Birdseed Brigade

What do vegetarians in the United States eat?
Ella H Haddad and Jay S Tanzman.
Am J Clin Nutr 2003;78(suppl):626S–32S.

The data in this study was taken from the CSFII, a US government survey which measured dietary intake over two 24-hour periods.

I’ll save time and give you the punchline right away: Of self-defined vegetarians, nearly 2/3 (214/334, or 64%) ate a significant quantity of meat on at least one of the two days for which their dietary intake was surveyed!

That’s right: pick two random days out of the year, and 64% of self-proclaimed ‘vegetarians’ ate meat during it. How many ‘vegetarians’ do you suppose survived for the other 363 days without eating meat, either?

Furthermore, 436 self-proclaimed meat-eaters did not eat any meat during those two days — far exceeding the number of self-proclaimed ‘vegetarians’ (334), let alone the number of actual vegetarians (120)!

In fact, the total percentage of self-proclaimed meat-eaters who didn’t eat any meat on those two days (3.4%) was 3.7 times greater than the total percentage of self-proclaimed ‘vegetarians’ who were able to stop eating meat for two days (0.9%)!

So What Does “I’m A Vegetarian” Actually Mean?

It turns out that meat-eating ‘vegetarians’ eat roughly the same balance of macronutrients as admitted meat-eaters.

The word “macronutrient” has several different meanings, but the most common is “one of the three substances that provide metabolic energy for animals: protein, fat, and ‘carbohydrates’ (i.e. sugars).”

So they’re eating a similar balance of protein, fat, and sugar. However, meat-eating ‘vegetarians’ eat a very different diet than admitted meat-eaters. They consume:

  • 55% less beer
  • 36% less fried potatoes (i.e. French fries)
  • 35% less poultry
  • 26% less red meat
  • 16% less sugars and sweets
  • 72% more fish! Apparently there are a lot of people who think fish are vegetables.
  • 42% more legumes
  • 36% more ‘other vegetables’
  • 26% more fruit
  • 20% more tomatoes

Yet some food habits remained the same:

  • Grain intake. (Paleo isn’t mainstream.)
  • Total milk
  • Total fats and oils
  • Wine consumption

If we look at the absolute proportions of each, not just relative percentages, we see that, in general, meat-eating ‘vegetarians’ are consuming much less meat, beer, and french fries—and are consuming much more fruit, vegetables, and fish.

The data is clear: in America, ‘vegetarian’ doesn’t mean “I don’t eat animals.” It means “I am trying to eat a healthy diet according to the recommendations of our government, the ADA, and my doctor or nutritionist.” This is made abundantly clear by Table 5 of Haddad and Tanzman, which shows relative intake of traditional “health foods” (whole-grain bread, soy milk, tofu) to be several times higher amongst meat-eating ‘vegetarians’.

Sure, It’s Funny: But It’s A Sign Of The Omnivore’s Doom

It’s easy to point our fingers and laugh at ‘vegetarians’ who eat fish because “I don’t eat animals” means “I don’t eat cute animals. But I’m OK with destroying the ocean because fish aren’t cute and I can’t see into it.”

It’s even easier to point and laugh at the real vegetarians: “I’m OK with starving and poisoning animals by clear-cutting and sterilizing their habitat to grow grain and soybeans—so long as PETA doesn’t show me videos of them dying.”

And it’s easiest to laugh at ‘vegetarians’ who eat meat—because they know in their blood and bones that humans are predators, and their misplaced guilt can’t stop their bodies from demanding nourishing, healthy, nutrient-dense meat…

…but that’s absolutely the wrong approach, for two reasons. First, because most of them are genuinely trying to do the right thing. (I was once a vegetarian, and I was a guilty omnivore for even longer. It’s difficult to deny your body the nourishment it demands, and not done lightly.)

Second, because it exposes an uncomfortable truth. Let’s think for a moment about what this means:

It means that ‘vegetarian’ and ‘vegan’ have become synonymous with ‘healthy eating’ and ‘environmentalism’.

In other words, it means that a tiny minority of loud, pushy vegetarians and vegans have successfully hijacked our entire nutritional and environmental discourse!

Against all biology, against all chemistry, against all anthropology and paleontology, against all the controlled studies, against all instinct and common sense, they’ve managed to convince the world that the healthy and natural human diet consists of birdseed and diesel fuel! Yet we’ve become nothing but fatter and sicker since heeding their advice—and the obese, diabetic bodies continue to pile up.

I call ‘vegetable oil’ diesel fuel, because it’s healthier to put it in a truck than to eat it. I call grains ‘birdseed’ because that’s what’s evolutionarily adapted to eat them: birds. (And some rodents.)

And that’s why I call the tiny minority of pushy China Study-wielding vegans and misguided vegetarians “The Birdseed Brigade.” (As opposed to the majority of well-meaning folks who have been bamboozled by their tireless propaganda.)

Even worse, industrial grain production impoverishes our farmers, destroys our soil and our water, and leaves barren land, salt flats, and dead ocean deltas in its wake. It demands unimaginable amounts of fossil fuels to create nitrogen fertilizer, toxic herbicides and pesticides, and giant sowing and harvesting machines, and to transport the grain from the Midwest to where people actually live. It demands giant, river-killing dams to fill irrigation canals. It strip-mines fossil water, pumped from underground aquifiers that took millions of years to fill—all to grow corn, wheat, and soybeans on land best suited for grazing livestock on perennial grasses.

Did you know that 3-5% of world natural gas production—1-2% of the entire world energy supply—is required just to make ammonium nitrate fertilizer? No, that’s not a misprint.

And just to choose the most ironically named example, the “Fertile Crescent” is mostly barren desert—denuded forever by the agriculture that was invented there, and once flourished there. (It covers regions of modern-day Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine and Syria…countries known for being desert wastelands.) Here’s a satellite photograph:

Can you spot the 'fertile' part?

In short, industrial agriculture is an unmitigated environmental catastrophe. Yet, somehow, the Birdseed Brigade has managed to convince the world that grains and grain oils—the toxic, destructive products of industrial agriculture—are both nutritionally and environmentally superior to local, human-scale production of meat, eggs, and dairy! (Which, unlike agriculture, actually restores damaged land: read more here and here.)

Footnoting this article would take an entire book. Fortunately for me, someone else already wrote it: Lierre Keith, whose deeply-researched “The Vegetarian Myth” (available from Amazon, or direct from the author) is much more than a deconstruction of veganism and vegetarianism: it teaches us what it means to be alive on the Earth.

And though I’m not sure that her solution to agricultural civilization solves anything in the long run, it’s the most passionate yet clear-headed presentation of its intrinsic unsustainability I’ve read yet—far beyond Michael Pollan or any of the other apologists who think we can disappear on this Earth if we would just stop moving and eating so darned much.

Why Fighting Back And Spreading The Word Is Important: A Call To Arms

It’s important because the Birdseed Brigade wants to force us to eat unhealthy, tasteless, environmentally destructive industrial products, just like they do.

Denmark has already levied a tax on—wait for it—saturated fat.

Danish food industry sources slam ‘fat tax’
By Ben Bouckley, 14-Jan-2011

“Denmark introduced a tax based upon levels of saturated fats in all foods at the start of 2011…

The country’s tax ministry has calculated that butter prices will rise by 14% under the new tax regime, with margarine up 21% and whipped cream 12%…The least expensive duck will be 13.6 per cent more expensive this Christmas, while prices for the most expensive birds (with less fat) would only rise by 4.7%, thus penalising less affluent consumers.”

[And don’t even ask what the extra tax on coconut oil (80% saturated) will be—because that will give you a heart attack.]

This means Danes are going to be eating a lot more omega-6 laden polyunsaturated vegetable oils…proven to increase the risk of heart disease! Yet, undeterred by the evidence, the Danish government pushes ahead:

“According to the Danish government-funded Forebyggelses Kommisionen (Prevention Commission), which assesses the nation’s health priorities, if the variable tax is levied for 10 years it will increase average life expectancy amongst the Danish population by 5.5 days.”

Say again? The best case, using the most brutally tortured fake statistics they can come up with, is 5.5 days? And they’re willing to slap on an extra 15-20% tax on real food to do it?

This is what we are up against. Paleo and Primal and Protein Power and low-carb and Atkins people, Weston A. Price disciples, real chefs and real grandmothers and real food eaters everywhere who refuse to stop cooking and eating delicious, healthy, natural animal foods—

—and don’t forget the poor, who live on the parts the rest of us won’t touch—

—THE TIME IS NOW.

The Birdseed Brigade Is Coming For You

The Birdseed Brigade is coming.

They’re coming for your butter, your coconut oil, your tallow and leaf lard. They’re coming for your prime rib, your pot roast, your liver and marrow. They’re coming for your eggs, your bacon, your cheese, and your jerky. And they are most definitely coming for your burgers and your ice cream.

This is no joke. They’re already pushing for a ‘sin tax’ on meat—as if the real sin isn’t the massive subsidies for destructive industrial agriculture that allow feedlots to exist in the first place, and that cause us to overproduce so much corn that we’re forced to add it to gasoline at a net energy loss and at considerable environmental damage!

This is not the time to be reticent, diffident, or demure. It is time to educate yourself, and educate others. It is time to forward your favorite articles, and to be generous with your paper books. And it is time to point anyone reading The China Study to Denise Minger.

It is not a time to apologize. Yet it is not a time to be self-righteous: what you eat (or don’t eat) does not make you a better person. Everyone gets enough of that from the Birdseed Brigade.

It is a time to be healthy and proud. You must speak out—but your body, your energy, your confidence, and your demeanor speak louder than your words.

Most of all, it is a time to feed real food to your family, your friends, and everyone else. All the guilt in the world can’t keep our bodies from craving what they need, and all the words in the world can’t describe a mouthful of creamy, delicious, life-sustaining saturated animal fat.

Live in freedom, live in beauty.

JS


Be bold! You can begin by sharing this article with the buttons below.

You might also enjoy Does Meat Rot In Your Colon?, The Term "Vegetable Oil" Is False Advertising, and the list of science-based diet references at the end of Eat Like A Predator.

And if you enjoy my writing here at gnolls.org, you’ll also enjoy my “Funny, provocative, entertaining, fun, insightful” novel The Gnoll Credo. (Read glowing reviews, read the first 20 pages, and if you’re outside the USA, click here.)

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Eat More “Heart-Healthy” Trans Fats!
(We hid them in plain sight)

This is a bonus article: I usually update on Tuesdays. I’ve got something astoundingly excellent lined up for this next Tuesday, so subscribe to my RSS feed to remind yourself!

Tireless media coverage, and government-mandated nutritional labeling, has convinced everyone that trans fats are bad for us.

Fortunately, unlike most dietary scares of the past 50 years, the government and the ADA appear to have got this one mostly right: trans fats are indeed toxic. According to this data (yes, it’s a prospective study and therefore contaminated by associational confounders), consuming just 2% of your calories from trans fat doubles your risk of heart disease! They’re also associated with obesity, Alzheimer’s, and infertility in women, and they may interfere with liver function.

What’s a Trans Fat? (You can skip this if you’re not interested in chemistry)

Oleic acid, a cis-fatty acid (Source: Wikipedia)

Hydrogenation” means that a hydrogen atom is forced into the space where a double bond once was, making it into a single bond. For instance, hydrogenating a monounsaturated fat makes a saturated fat.

Dietary fats are either saturated, monounsaturated, or polyunsaturated. “Saturated” means that there are no double bonds in the molecular structure, and no hydrogens can be added. “Monounsaturated” means one double bond, and “polyunsaturated” means…well, more than one.

The interesting part is that double bonds can be cis- or trans-…basically the chemical equivalent of right- or left-handed. It turns out that fats created (or hydrogenated) by enzymes, in mammal bodies, are all cis-handed. But chemical hydrogenation creates a mixture of cis- and trans- fats that actually favors the unnatural trans- configuration 2:1. And the resulting trans- molecules have a dramatically different shape!

Eliadic acid, the same fat in trans- form

This is why trans fats wreak havoc in your body: they’re the wrong shape, and your body simply doesn’t know what to do with them. It’s like putting brake fluid in your engine oil, or antifreeze in your gasoline.

(The alert observer will note that it is impossible to create a saturated trans fat.)

Hidden Trans Fats: They’re Everywhere

So you think “I’ll only buy products with 0g of trans fat on the nutrition label. Then I’ll be safe.” Right?

Does it contain trans fat? This won't tell you.

No.

Trans fat hides in plain sight.

Trans Fat: Hiding on the Nutrition Label

Here’s the first place it hides: on the nutrition label. If a ‘serving’ of food has 0.5 grams or less of trans fat, the label can say “0 grams”. But how many ‘servings’ are you eating? If a ‘serving’ is 50 calories, you can easily eat eight servings at a sitting—or four grams of trans fat!

How can you tell? Look on the ingredient list. If you see the words “hydrogenated” or “vegetable shortening”, you can guarantee the presence of trans fats—no matter what the nutrition label says.

Trans Fat: Hiding in ‘Heart-Healthy’ Seed Oils

Of course, we should be eating those ‘heart-healthy’ polyunsaturated seed oils instead, right? Like ‘canola’ (rapeseed) oil?

Well, aside from the fact that seed oils contain mostly pro-inflammatory n-6 (“omega-6″) polyunsaturated fats, both n-6 and n-3 polyunsaturated fats are less chemically stable than saturated fats. It turns out that the process of extracting and deodorizing them (which requires both hexane, a poisonous industrial solvent, and high heat) turns some quantity of them into…trans fats!

SEAN. O’KEEFE, SARA. GASKINS-WRIGHT, VIRGINIA. WILEY, I-CHEN. CHEN. LEVELS OF TRANS GEOMETRICAL ISOMERS OF ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS IN SOME UNHYDROGENATED U. S. VEGETABLE OILS. J Food Lipids Vol 1 #3 pp.165-176 Sept. 1994

Concentrations of trans isomers of 18:2w6 and 18:3w3 were measured in soybean and canola oils purchased in the U. S. […] The degree of isomerizations of 18:2w6 and 18:3w3 ranged from 0.3% to 3.3% and 6.6% to 37.1%, respectively. The trans contents were between 0.56% and 4.2% of the total fatty acids.

Vegetable oil solvent extraction plant

Vegetable oil solvent extraction plant, China.

Yes, that’s the ‘heart-healthy’ canola oil that they put in everything nowadays because it has ALA in it (the least useful omega-3). Yet the average canola oil contains over 2% trans fat! (Remember: 2% of calories = doubling of heart disease risk.) And if extraction under carefully-controlled conditions creates that much trans fat, how much more does the uncontrolled heat of cooking and frying create?

(We don’t know—but we do know that n-3 fats are less chemically stable than n-6 fats, and generally get hydrogenated first. So all those “Omega-3 Enriched!” oils become “Trans-Fat Enriched!” when you cook with them. For evidence of this, we move to the next section…)

Trans Fats: Hiding In The Deep Fryer

The third place trans fats hide is in the deep-fryer. Canola oil is the most common frying oil, because everyone knows canola is ‘heart-healthy’…right?

Mmmm...myocardial infarctions!

If you can run a city bus on it, it's not food.

Unfortunately, since polyunsaturated oils are unstable under the continuous heat of the deep fryer, canola oil is hydrogenated so it’ll last longer. (This is why we fried everything in saturated fats, like beef tallow, before the now-discredited “Lipid Hypothesis” took over American nutrition theory: saturated fats can’t hydrogenate by definition, and they don’t degrade nearly as much or as quickly under heat.)

How much?

Industrial canola oil for deep-fat frying contains 27% trans fat. (Source.)

Still want that order of French fries?

Live in freedom, live in beauty.

JS

(Did you enjoy this article? Share it with your friends! For more articles about fat, try “Why Humans Crave Fat” or “Fat and Glycemic Index: The Myth of ‘Complex Carbohydrates’“.)


Postscript: What Should I Use Instead?

Use saturated fats, which don’t hydrogenate—and monounsaturated fats, which hydrogenate to saturated fats, not trans fats. Butter, beef tallow, and coconut oil each contain only a tiny fraction of polyunsaturated fats…and if you buy grass-fed beef or butter, that fraction contains more healthy n-3 fats and less unhealthy n-6 fats.

And since a surprising number of people still believe that saturated fat is bad for you: no, it isn’t.

Patty W Siri-Tarino, Qi Sun, Frank B Hu, and Ronald M Krauss. Meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies evaluating the association of saturated fat with cardiovascular disease. Am J Clin Nutr Jan 2010
“A meta-analysis of prospective epidemiologic studies showed that there is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of CHD or CVD.

And here’s the layman’s version, from Scientific American: “Carbs Against Cardio: More Evidence that Refined Carbohydrates, not Fats, Threaten the Heart“, Scientific American, May 2010

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