Gluten has come under controversy of late and the effects of that have rubbed off in the way we order our food. In cafes, we see gluten-free options for most of the items on the menu and it seems to have taken on a social tag of being cool. Initially, gluten-free food options were specifically for those who are sensitive to gluten, but today, we are seeing an influx of more people going gluten-free for health reasons. This comes after reports have been published that question the safety of gluten. As of now, gluten-free seems to be a trend that is on the up and there are no signs of it cooling off. But how far is this refusal to consume gluten justified?
What Is Gluten?
Gluten is basically a general name for the many proteins that can be found in barley, rye and wheat. To simplify things, gluten is what gives food their shape, and in layman terms, it functions quite like a glue that holds everything together. What you need to know is that there are two main proteins in gluten that are called glutenin and gliadin. It seems gliadin stands out among the two since it has fingers being pointed at it for contributing to a number of negative health effects. At the moment, the most commonly consumed grain which contains gluten is wheat and it is what gives us bread, porridge, pasta, noodles, cakes, doughnuts and even our favourite brand of cereal. It can be quite a list when we consider the many products that are derived from gluten.
What Does Gluten Do?
The reason why gluten-free food was invented was to ensure those with gluten sensitivity do not break out in bad reactions when dining out. Common reactions are abdominal pain, bloating, depression and even fatigue. On the other hand, gluten is also not great for those who are suffering from celiac disease since they are affected by even the tiniest amounts of gluten. When consumed by those with celiac disease, the gluten would actually ruin the lining of the small intestine and this affects how nutrients are absorbed and eventually lead to serious issues like osteoporosis, infertility, seizures and nerve damage.
In some serious cases, gluten might indirectly cause your body’s immune system to react wildly and attack its own tissues. This happens when the gluten peptides break into the intestinal mucosa and provoke the body’s immune system to destroy its own tissues. While this serious condition might not happen to everyone, it is worth noting that the consumption of gluten could lead to inflammation in the body.
The Downside To Gluten
In some individuals, the body perceives gluten as a bad thing and this would cause your body to react in dangerous ways which might harm your health.
It Might Cause Celiac Disease
As mentioned earlier, celiac disease is no laughing matter since it is an autoimmune disease that causes your immune system to attack the gluten proteins alongside your body’s tissue, leading to the degeneration of the walls along your intestines. While it is not a majority of the population that would contract celiac disease, studies have been done and it was discovered that the number is rising.
Lead To Rashes
You would never know until you get it but you might be on the receiving end of an itchy rash or lesions on your skin called dermatitis herpetiformis when you consume gluten. It is hard to predict where these lesions may occur but they often happen around the elbows, knees, buttocks, lower back and around your neck and head. If you have dermatitis herpetiformis, it is likely that you might be positive for celiac disease so you ought to look out during mealtimes. While the rashes would get better over time with medication by your general physician, it might leave behind permanent scarring on your skin that could be unsightly.
Irritate Your Bowels
Gluten does not only affect those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity and it can affect me and you. In a recent study done on gluten, it was found that those with irritable bowel syndrome found their symptoms worsening when they consume gluten. Another research has also uncovered that some individuals would encounter gastrointestinal symptoms after introducing wheat into their diet and this is strongly linked to gluten. Not only that, the gliadin in gluten has also been found to cause an increase in intestinal permeability and this is what is commonly understood as leaky gut. Unlike its deceptively normal name, it is when potentially harmful substances enter the bloodstream and cause pandemonium in your body.
Ridding Gluten From Your Diet
Thankfully, avoiding food that contains gluten can be done since it would improve most of your symptoms. What you can try is to introduce more meat, fish, fruits and vegetables into your diet. If you absolutely have to get your fix of carbs, how about substituting those products made with wheat flour with bean flour, quinoa, buckwheat or amaranth instead. Because of how trendy gluten-free food is at the moment, there will always be some new products that would cater to you to completely eradicate gluten from your diet.