Gluten and why it is bad for you
Gluten-free diet is necessary for some and sounds trendy to others. Visit any grocery store and you will be amazed to see rows of products labelled as ‘gluten-free’. Many of us don’t know what it is and very few of us are actually bothered if we are eating a gluten-free diet or not. However, the concept of ‘gluten-free living’ is rapidly appealing people across the globe. While it is mandatory for people with Celiac disease (we will be discussing about it later), recent studies have indicated that this protein composite is also harmful for people who are not suffering from this disease. This means, virtually every human being should choose to go gluten-free.
If you have no idea what it is, relax. You are not alone. This article will educate you about this protein composite and why you should really bother about staying away from it.
What is Gluten?
As mentioned above, gluten is a protein composite, i.e. it is made up of two types of protein; gliadin and gluten. Wheat, spelt, barley, and rye are its main sources. As its name suggests, it has glue-like properties. When you mix the wheat flour with water, it reacts with it to form a sticky cross-linking network of protein. This network of protein gives elastic properties to the dough, which helps it to rise when baked.
If you are excessively sensitive to gluten, i.e. if you are suffering from Celiac disease, your abdominal immune system will consider it as a pathogen and will start attacking it. Along with destroying the gluten cells, your body’s immune system will damage the lining of your small intestine, thereby preventing it from absorbing vital nutrients. You could suffer from diarrhea, anemia, skin diseases, malnutrition, bone problems, and many other diseases that could severely impact the quality of life you live. Isn’t it scary? Even scarier is the fact that this disease may not show up for years, if not decades, thereby damaging your body internally. Thankfully, only 1-2% of people are sensitive to gluten. The only way to detect your sensitivity is to get yourself tested.
Even if you are not suffering from celiac disease, you should not eat gluten-rich food
May be, you are not suffering from Celiac disease, but you could still be sensitive to gluten! In this form of ‘gluten sensitivity’, your immune system will not attack your intestinal , but you will face many problems that are similar to celiac diseases such as stomach pain, fatigue, bloating, joint pain, etc. According to The Cleveland Clinic, Centre for Continuing Education, around 40% people have genes that make them sensitive to gluten. Now, 40% is a huge number. This means, almost every second or third person is sensitive to gluten! But, unfortunately, there is no clear way of diagnosing this sensitivity and the symptoms may not show up for years.
Gluten is equally harmful for people who are neither celiac patients, not suffer from gluten-sensitivity.
This means, even if you are not among those 41-42% population (1-2 % celiac patients + 40% gluten sensitive people), you should still stay away from gluten-rich food.
A study conducted by Monash University Department of Medicine and Gastroenterology, concluded that non-celiac gluten intolerance may exist. The researchers conducted their study on 34 individuals with irritable bowel syndrome and found that people who ate gluten-containing diet faced more incidents of stomach pain, bloating, stool inconsistency, and fatigue as compared to the gluten-free group.
Another study from 1981 found that excessive gluten intake can cause inflammation in the intestinal wall, even if you are not sensitive to this protein composite. Back then they were on to something and inline with current research we can see the trend towards more and more cases of gluten intolerance.
Apart from these two, there are many other studies who have concluded that gluten is harmful for almost everyone, irrespective of his sensitivity towards it.
Wait, there is more to come.
Gluten can affect your brain!
Shocking but true. Not only your intestine, your brain also reacts negatively to this chemical. This condition is known as ‘Gluten Sensitive Idiopathic Neuropathy’. It is a disease where gluten consumption can trigger problems in your nervous system, i.e. your brain, spinal cord, and the peripheral nerves. Cerebellar Ataxia is one such problem in which, you will be unable to keep coordination between your movements. You will find it hard to balance yourself and will not be able to talk properly. Some other brain disorders associated with gluten are epilepsy, Autism, schizophrenia.
So What Can You Do?
Have your self tested for gluten intolerance by your doctor. You might also try cutting out all gluten containing foods for a week or two and see if you feel better. And slowly reintroduce gluten containing food one at a time and notice how you feel. You might also want to try an elimination diet as well.
Find It Hard To Get Clean Eating Recipes?
If you are stuck for recipe ideas our clean recipes ebook has many gluten free options for recipes and meals to suit many different tastes, check out the link below for more. Each recipe show the calorie content and how many grams of fat, protein and carbohydrates is contained in each recipe so you’ll know exactly what fits your dietary needs.