Gluten and Its Effects on Human Health | Gluten Sensitivity & Allergy

Gluten is a general name for the proteins found in wheat, rye, barley and triticale (a cross between wheat and rye).  In other words, it refers to the proteins found in cereal grain’s endosperm. They nourish plant embryos during germination and later affects the elasticity of dough, then it affects to the chewiness of the baked products. Two main proteins found in gluten are glutenin and gliadin. Gliadin is a prolamin protein while glutenin is a glutelin protein. Gliadin is responsible for most of the negative health effects.

When flour is mixed with water, then sticky network like glue form and this glue-like property makes the dough elastic and gives the bread the ability to rise when baked. It also provides a chewy property. So the name gluten is derived from the glue-like property of wet dough.

Its rich foods are wheat, barley, and rye. Bread, baked goods, soups, pasta, cereals, sauces, salad dressings, roux etc.found in wheat. Malt, food coloring, soups, beer, brewer’s yeast etc. found in barley. Rye bread, rye beer, cereals etc. found in Rye. Bread, pasta, cereals etc. found in a newer grain. These are just a few of gluten-containing food but there are also diet foods. Therefore, not all grains contain gluten. Some examples of gluten-free grains are millet, brown rice, buckwheat, amaranth, corn (polenta), teff, sorghum etc. Oats are also gluten-free.

Is gluten bad for some people?

Yes, gluten is bad for gluten-sensitive or gluten-intolerant people, which means their bodies produce an abnormal immune response when breaking down gluten during digestion. So it causes several problems like celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, wheat allergy and some other diseases.

Celiac Diseases:

Celiac disease is also spelled as a celiac disease that is the most severe form of gluten intolerance. It affects about 0.7 to 1% of the population. It is an autoimmune disorder and treating gluten as a foreign invader. The immune system attacks the gluten as well as the lining of the gut. This will damage the gut wall and cause nutrient deficiencies, anemia, severe digestive issues and an increased risk of many diseases.

The most common symptoms of celiac disease are digestive discomfort, tissue damage in the small intestines, bloating, constipation, headache, tiredness, skin rashes, depression, diarrhea, foul-smelling feces, weight loss etc.

Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity:

There are many people who do not test positive for celiac disease but react negatively to gluten. So this condition is called non-celiac Gluten Sensitivity. Most common symptoms of gluten sensitivity are stomach pain, diarrhea, tiredness, bloating and depression. But there are no clear margins or separation of it.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Wheat Allergy, and others:

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a common digestive disorder that causes symptoms like abdominal pain, cramping, bloating, gas and diarrhea.  It’s a chronic condition, but many people are able to manage their symptoms with diet, lifestyle changes, and stress management.
White allergy comes out when skin, respiratory or gastrointestinal reacts to wheat but Gluten is not necessarily the cause of white allergy.

Gluten-intolerant is the most common indication of digestive discomfort. It may cause anemia or trouble gaining weight. There are two main ways to find out if you have any celiac disease:

  • Blood tests
  • Biopsy of small intestine

Blood Tests: There is the blood test for antibodies and the most common one is called the tTG-IgA test. If it is seen positive, then tissue biopsy is recommended to confirm the results.

Biopsy from Small Intestine: A small sample of tissue is taken from the small intestine to analyze the damage.

If your symptoms don’t improve on a gluten-free diet and don’t get worse when you re-introduce gluten, then the culprit is probably something other than gluten.

Difference between gluten intolerance and wheat allergy:

  • Wheat allergy is the most serious of the wheat-related disorders and has serious symptoms and can be a severe threat.
  • It is not so dangerous but wheat allergy symptoms and signs are life-threatening.
  • The symptoms of wheat allergy are: Nausea and vomiting, Diarrhea, Mouth or throat irritation, rash, hives, irritated eyes, difficulty breathing etc

FODMAPs and its digestive issues:

In many foods like wheat, we can find FODMAPs (short-chain carbohydrates). Many people are unable to digest these properly so cause various digestive symptoms.

A safe way to do a Gluten-Free Diet:

At first, start reading the labels on everything you eat. You should eat mainly whole, healthy foods, as most whole foods are the natural diet. But you must avoid processed food, cereals, and grains that contain gluten.

Common examples of gluten-free grains are:

  • Corn
  • Rice
  • Flax
  • Tapioca
  • Buckwheat
  • Arrowroot
  • Amaranth
  • Oats etc

Oat is a naturally gluten-free food so it is the safest way to consume with a gluten-free label.

Should everyone avoid Gluten?

In fact, avoiding this is unnecessary things. However, for people with certain health conditions, should only give special attention to it. So always make sure to choose healthy foods.

Note: Foods to avoid in restaurants include fried foods, certain sauces, or anything that has been fried in the same pan with a gluten-containing food.

Using gluten-free food can affect the body in many ways:

  • It affects the weight loss:

Food restriction associated with a gluten-free lifestyle can help you to lose weight. Food manufacturers often include additional fat or sugar to make gluten-free products tastier, increasing the product’s calorie count and sometimes deceiving those using the diet to control their waistline.

  • It can cause nutrient deficiencies:

Many whole grains are rich in vitamins and minerals like vitamins B and D, iron and fiber.

  • It may also affect cognitive function:

Cutting it and carbs from your personal menu can support cognition as you age. However, researchers must research to understand the impact of gluten on our brain.

  • Gluten-free can improve digestion, by reducing bloating and diarrhea:

 Gluten-free lifestyle improves digestion and also relieve symptoms associated with other intestinal disorders like lactose intolerance.

It is the most common practice nowadays for food, so make sure about your health before consuming any gluten-enriched food then only your health would remain in a sound. People should give special attention while selecting any food.

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