Is Gluten Bad for Everyone? Demystifying Gluten-Free Diet

Gluten free diet is such a buzzword. Everyone who is into health swears by a Gluten Free diet. But do we really understand the science behind what “gluten’” does to our body and why we should avoid it, if at all we should? The word “gluten” has become such a buzzword in recent years, most likely because of the sudden popularity of the gluten-free diet that’s been endorsed by famous personalities. Before you consider trying this diet, read this page first to learn about gluten, and how it can negatively impact your body and health in the long run.

What Is Gluten?

Gluten is a protein that forms an elastic bond in the presence of water. Its this adhesive property found in gluten that gives our rotis the perfect rolling. This ability isn’t surprising, considering that the word “gluten” is derived from the Latin word for “glue.”

How does Gluten behave?

Gluten interferes with nutrient breakdown and absorption from foods, regardless if they have gluten or not. This leads to the formation of a glued-together constipating lump in the gut that can prevent proper digestion. Afterwards, the undigested gluten prompts the immune system to attack the lumps or the fine mesh like lining in our small intestine. Gluten consumption can also predispose people to increased damage and inflammation to the small intestine, causing nutrient malabsorption, nutrient deficiencies, anemia, osteoporosis and other health problems. A damaged gut then makes people susceptible to auto immune reactions or diseases in the longer run.

Where is Gluten found?

Foods like Wheat, Maida, Suji (Semolina) etc. Anything which contains wheat may have traces of gluten in it. Major food habits of Indian include having three meals containing gluten in form of breakfast (Parathas, Porridge, Breads – wholewheat or white), lunch (Rotis, Pasta, pancakes) or dinner (Rotis, Pasta) etc. Hence we not only eat Gluten but our diets primarily comprise of gluten based diets. Even our evening snacks of samosa, mathiri, pav are all gluten based products.

What is Celiac disease?

Most people who need to avoid gluten have celiac disease, a chronic digestive disorder in which individuals who ingest gluten experience an immune response. There is no cure for celiac, though people who have it can manage the disease by following a gluten-free diet. People who get diagnosed with Celiac know the havoc that gluten causes to their bodies. There is an established link between Diabetes Type 1 and Celiac Disease (there is no connection between Type 2 Diabetes and Celiac). The prevalence of Celiac Disease in people with Type 1 diabetes is about 6% worldwide. 

So, is Gluten Bad for Everyone?

If we don’t have Celiac, it doesn’t mean that Gluten doesn’t play with our digestion. It simply implies that the effects on our digestion may not be sudden and extreme and here comes the importance of following a “Gluten Free” or “Gluten reduced diet”. If we reduce most of the gluten based products, we minimize the effects and add solid nutrition to our bodies. In certain situations, gluten sensitivity can be due to a non-autoimmune disorder. Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity is a condition which hasn’t been understood completely and it’s exact causes are still being researched. Adherence to a gluten-free diet is the only treatment for NCGS as of now. Wheat Allergy is yet another condition which might make the avoidance of wheat (and wheat products) necessary. 

Why a Gluten-Free Diet Works?

What can we eat to get to gluten free diet:

  • Naturally gluten-free: Rice, millets, quinoa, sorghum, flax and amaranth seed are naturally gluten-free grains.
  • Refined to remove gluten: We should typically avoid these flours as they are deprived of any goodness in the process of making the wheat gluten free.

     

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