What’s All The Fuss With Gluten?
Today, almost all products you see in the supermarket have “Gluten-Free” printed on their packaging. However, a lot of people don’t even fully understand what gluten-free means—if they even need their foods to be gluten-free or not. Let’s try to understand what all the fuss about gluten is.
Firstly, gluten is a protein composite found in grains such as wheat, barley, and rye. The word comes from the Latin ‘gluten’, which means ‘glue’. This is a substance that provides elasticity to dough, which helps it to rise. Doesn’t seem to be anything significant, does it? But it does mean something for those who suffer from celiac disease.
So what does this protein have to do with those with celiac disease? To understand better, celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that occurs in genetically predisposed individuals from all ages. This disorder affects the small intestines. For those with celiac disease, the small intestines react to ‘prolamin’ (gluten protein) found in wheat, and similar proteins found in a number of grains such as barley and rye. When an individual with celiac disease is exposed to this protein, the small intestines suffer an inflammatory reaction, which results in interference of nutrient absorption and vitamin deficiency. Symptoms, to list a few, include chronic constipation, discomfort in the digestive tract, diarrhea, anemia, failure to thrive (in children), fatigue, and vitamin deficiencies. The only known treatment is a lifestyle that is gluten-free.
Aside from celiac disease, it has been accepted that a number of individuals suffer from sensitivity to gluten even though clinical tests have never shown this. This condition is considered as non-celiac gluten sensitivity because it has been asserted that some people are sensitive to gluten without suffering from celiac disease. And because of this, people who feel they are sensitive to gluten prefer to eat foods that are gluten free.
On the other hand, a lot of consumers feel going gluten-free is the way for them to lose weight. Some attest to weight loss because of this lifestyle. Going gluten-free requires you to avoid many foods that are processed since these contain a lot of gluten, as well as chemicals and artificial flavorings. You will instead be eating more fruits and vegetables, and foods that are non-starchy. This lifestyle will lead to you to eliminate unhealthy oils and unhealthy carbohydrates found in foods such as breads, doughnuts, and pastries, which leads to reduced risk of diseases such as heart disease, certain cancers, and diabetes. This will promote weight loss, especially if you eat a well-balanced diet that has essential protein, fat, and carbohydrates. Just remember to keep in mind portion control.
Whatever the case may be, it seems gluten-free foods are here to stay. If you plan on taking on this lifestyle—be it because you’re sensitive to gluten or simply want to lose weight—there really is nothing wrong. Either way, gluten-free is still healthy.