As the general public becomes more aware of the diseases related to gluten sensitivity, many health conscious people are wondering whether to eat a gluten-free diet. And who can blame them? Aggressive marketing campaigns for overpriced gluten-free products create the impression that they are the key to long, healthy lives and that gluten is the root of all evil. But before we jump the gun and get back on a diet that promises to change our lives, we should understand what gluten is and how it can affect our health in the light of scientific research.
Gluten is a protein that occurs naturally in many grains such as wheat, barley, and rye. The name comes from the glue-like consistency when water and flour are mixed into a dough. It is responsible for the sourdough, which gives a soft, chewy texture to many products such as bread, pasta, cereal, and pastries, which are an essential part of a balanced, high-fiber diet. However, gluten is also added to a whole host of nondescript processed foods to improve texture and moisture retention. Some of these consist of salad dressings, processed meats, and soups. With gluten found in such a wide variety of products, avoiding gluten entirely can be difficult, and do we even have to? Keep reading the article to learn more.
Is Gluten Bad?
While gluten itself does not provide essential nutrients, it is generally harmless to most people. And medical professionals agree that no evidence shows any significant health benefits of a gluten-free diet for the general public. On the contrary. Research shows that people who have followed a gluten-free diet for longer tend to have more nutritional deficiencies, such as fiber, iron and then of course calcium.
However, gluten does trigger some conditions such as celiac disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivity, and wheat allergy that require diet, excluding foods with gluten as part of treatment.
What is Celiac Disease?
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that affects approximately 1 to 2% of the world’s population. This can cause serious discomfort and, in some cases, real harm to your body. For celiac sufferers, 50 milligrams of protein in wheat or other grains is a big deal. Why? Because it’s enough to trigger the immune system to attack the cells of the small intestine. This leads to damage in the lining of the small intestine. And that leads to poor nutrient absorption, uncomfortable symptoms, and other health problems. These are infertility, osteoporosis, and then seizures. While the exact cause of this disease is unclear, research suggests that genetic components play a role. The most common symptoms of celiac disease are as follows:
- Digestive problems such as gas, diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, inflammation, and then damage to digestive tissues
- Rashes, eczema
- Fatigue, headache, confusion, “foggy brain”
- Inexplicable weight loss
- Lack of nutrients, a weakened immune system
What is Gluten Sensitivity Without Celiac Disease?
People who have not tested positive for wheat allergies or celiac disease but have negative symptoms such as stomach pain, diarrhea, or gas may develop non-celiac gluten sensitivity. While symptoms are bothersome, there is no damage to the tissues of the small intestine.
What is wheat allergy?
Wheat allergy is a form of food allergy in which the immune system confuses wheat as a pathogen. It can lead to congestion, breathing difficulties, or digestive problems. In contrast to celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity, the cause of the reaction is wheat rather than the gluten found in wheat and cereals. Therefore, people with a wheat allergy can consume other grains such as barley or rye.
What to eat on a gluten-free diet
If you have a gluten sensitivity, it is very important to follow a strict gluten-free diet to relieve symptoms. Here are some gluten foods to avoid and foods that are safe to eat.
- Avoid grains containing gluten such as whole wheat, barley, rye, triticale, couscous, semolina, bulgur, durum wheat, einkorn, etc.
- Avoid products made from gluten-containing grains such as pasta, bread, muesli, crackers, malt, rye beer, baked goods, soups, sauces, salad dressings, etc.
- Gluten-free foods that are safe to eat include gluten-free whole grains; fresh fruits and vegetables; Proteins such as legumes, meat, poultry, seafood, and nuts; some dairy products; Fats and oils.
- Look for the gluten-free label on processed foods to rule out the possibility of ingesting gluten foods.
Is A Gluten Free Diet Effective For Weight Loss?
Although gluten-free is advertised as an effective diet for weight loss and an overall part of a healthy life, there is no research examining the effects of a gluten-free diet in weight loss on people without gluten sensitivity. However, studies examining the long-term effects on people with celiac disease following gluten-free diets found that the gluten-free diet may lead to weight gain rather than weight loss.
Recent research has challenged the common belief that celiac disease develops in childhood and is diagnosed later in life by the onset of symptoms. They found that not only can you develop celiac disease at any age, even if you’ve previously tested negative, but also that older adults in old age are at greater risk of developing it.
There are test kits marketed for direct use by the consumer at home through a stool or fingerprint blood test. Experts warn that these tests are not reliable sources for identifying food allergies, intolerances, or sensitivities. Additionally, these tests can potentially lead to many false positive results, which can lead to unnecessary food restrictions and nutritional deficiencies.
It depends on you. Before you come to any conclusion, however, make sure you understand and understand each and every one of these points. The decision is yours.
Although many commonly consumed grains are sources of gluten, there are some very nutritious gluten-free grains to add to your diet if you are sensitive. Some healthy gluten-free grains are; Quinoa, oats, buckwheat, corn, brown rice, teff, amaranth, and sorghum.
If you have celiac disease or any related sensitivity, you may find that your symptoms will improve in about two weeks on a strict gluten-free diet. Generally, most symptoms are expected to go away completely within three months. However, it can take up to six months for all small intestinal damage to recover.
Bottom line on gluten
Gluten is a protein that is found in many grains. If swallowed, people with celiac disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivity, and wheat allergies can experience symptoms that range from discomfort to serious health problems. Therefore, people clinically diagnosed with any of these problems should follow a gluten-free diet. There is no evidence to suggest that a gluten-free diet has many health benefits for people who do not have these problems and can cause more harm than good. If you think you have any health problems related to gluten intolerance, consult a doctor. Since we started talking about nutrition, you might also be interested in the keto diet.