How bad is gluten for health ?
Table of Contents
Gluten is a bad word in the environment of nutritionists and those passionate about healthy lifestyles. For them, the label “gluten-free” has become almost as desirable as “GMO-free,” and the search for gluten-free alternatives to familiar foods has become almost hysterical.
Gluten is a significant constituent of wheat that people have consumed for thousands of years without meaningful health consequences for most of them. But this is okay with the followers of the gluten-free movement. Unfortunately, gluten is quite dangerous for people because it is not always easy to trace its content in products, which can lead to excessive consumption. For example, when playing your favorite bollywood casino slots online, a person can get carried away and not notice how much they eat flour products. But in the future, it will affect health.
What is gluten?
Contrary to popular belief, gluten is not a specific substance but the collective name for a whole group of proteins found in certain plants: wheat, rye, oats, barley, and their relatives and hybrids.
Gluten is the main protein of gluten, a tasteless plastic mass contained in the grains of wheat, rye, and barley. It is not poisonous and unremarkable except because it is responsible for the plasticity of dough and bread quality.
What role does gluten play in baking?
Gluten is so called for its “adhesive” properties (gluten is Latin for “glue”), which are used in baking: it can glue different food components into one mass and give dough viscosity. In white bread, for example, gluten is one of the main constituents; it can be up to 70-80% by weight.
Why is gluten considered dangerous?
It’s not gluten that’s dangerous; it’s people who are anxious. The real problems that gluten can cause are greatly exaggerated. It cannot harm people who are not allergic to gluten or genetically predisposed to celiac disease.
The question is more for psychologists, of course. People tend to shift the harm of gluten for those with different forms of gluten intolerance to everyone: if it’s terrible for someone, it’s bad for everyone.”
What is celiac disease?
- The disease associated with gluten intolerance is called celiac disease. It is a relatively rare diagnosis. Celiac disease occurs in the first year of life when a child begins to be fed cereal porridge. It presents the main problems: the child loses weight, has diarrhea, and does not receive enough nutrients for his development. That’s when you need help from specialists, including preparing a complete diet. It is not a severe disease, but it requires much attention from parents. Symptoms of celiac disease weaken with age, but congenital gluten intolerance products containing it are still excluded from the diet for life.
- In some people with a genetic predisposition, gluten can cause an inflammatory reaction like a delayed allergy. Inflammatory lymphoid cells (simply lymphocytes) infiltrate the small intestine (i.e., penetrate it and stay there) and gradually displace its standard villous lining, ensuring proper digestion and nutrient absorption. Accordingly, absorption is impaired. This unhealthy process is called celiac disease or gluten enteropathy.
- Celiac disease is relatively common, affecting about 1% of people, but the severity of its manifestations varies, so it is not always diagnosed. Children are diagnosed with the celiac disease better than other groups of patients. Pediatricians are well aware of the condition and are wary of it. But adults, who may also have celiac disease, are often left without a correct diagnosis because many “adult” doctors consider celiac disease a childhood disease.
Children should be suspected of celiac disease when they suffer from constipation, diarrhea, stunted growth and development, and changes in blood tests: hemoglobin, iron, albumin, and total protein fall. Brittle nails and hair become brittle, and the skin is often pale; it may be a pustular rash. Rather specific skin manifestation of celiac disease is dermatitis herpetiformis: blisters form on the skin, which burst, leaving ulcers in their place. The same blisters may appear on the tongue and mucous membranes. A characteristic manifestation of celiac disease in children is disproportionate bloating of the abdomen; the stomach becomes saggy and does not reduce in size during the day.
There may be a similar picture in adults or a more sterile one – usually, an adult patient with celiac disease complains of bloating, unsteady stools, and decreased hemoglobin and iron.
A gastroscopy with a duodenum biopsy is performed if celiac disease is suspected. Until recently, this method of diagnosis was the only one. Now it is used in unclear cases as an affirmative one. A blood test, testing for antibodies to transglutaminase, endomysium, and deamidated gliadin peptides, can confirm celiac disease with a high degree of certainty. A genetic test can help diagnose but is more likely to rule out celiac disease.
Celiac disease is not treated with medicine. A highly effective treatment is a gluten-free diet. Such patients are not allowed all foods made of wheat, rye, and barley; oat products are allowed after special processing. It is useless to follow a partial diet; excluding gluten must be impeccably strict.
Why do we need gluten, and what foods does it contain?
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. It is present in almost all baked goods and confectionery products.
Gluten serves a critical function, so we can look at dough as an example to answer why gluten is added to products. Gluten makes the dough flexible and will not crumble in your hands. As a result, baked goods made with wheat flour are puffy, and the finished products have a longer shelf life.
Gluten is also added to many products that require density: sauces, yogurts, and ketchup. In addition, it is present in sausage products, chocolate, crab sticks, etc. In product formulations, manufacturers list gluten as a “thickener” or “starch.”
Sticking to a gluten-free diet was difficult in the past because you had to be satisfied with a somewhat limited diet. But over time, many labeled “gluten-free” products have appeared on the market, and stores have begun to set aside separate shelves for such products.