More and more often you can hear about gluten intolerance and gluten-free diet. Is gluten really a substance we should be afraid of? What is gluten, what products does it contain and how does it affect health? Should everyone eat only gluten free products and what will the effects be?
1. Gluten characteristics
Gluten is a mixture of vegetable proteins found in some types of cereals , such as wheat, rye, barley and oats.
This compound is formed from prolamines and glutenin when kneading dough out of water and flour. It then takes the form of a springy complex, responsible for the properties of products that are valued in bakery, i.e. conciseness and flexibility.
It is thanks to gluten that the bread is fluffy, has a soft center and a crunchy crust. Gluten is also a carrier of taste – without it, all products based on wheat or rye flour would be bland and devoid of aroma.
In recent decades, gluten has been found in cereals and their products. Currently, it is added to many different food products, such as highly processed foods, spices and sausages.
Currently, cereals are genetically modified to increase their gluten content. Therefore, the consumption of this compound is now much higher than it was several decades ago.
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2. Gluten sources
Gluten is found in many foods, such as:
- cereal sprouts,
- bulgur ,
- pearl barley,
- Masurian porridge,
- salty snacks,
- cereal coffee,
- canned vegetables,
- spice mixtures,
- stock cubes,
- instant cereal,
- baking powder,
- cereal coffee,
- dried fruits,
3. Gluten free products
People with gluten intolerance can safely eat products such as:
- amaranth ,
- fish, poultry,
- vegetable fats,
- natural spices
- dairy products,
The above-mentioned foods naturally do not have gluten, but may be contaminated with it during the production or packaging process. It’s best to check the markings on the packaging to be 100% sure.
4. Is it worth giving in to gluten free fashion?
Our distant ancestors did not farm, so they also did not eat cereal. Their food consisted of hunted prey and what they found, for example, a forest undergrowth.
As it turns out, our genes have changed little since then, hence the maladjustment of this type of food . It is estimated that this problem affects a dozen or so percent of the population.
Products containing gluten should not be abandoned if they do not cause any discomfort after consumption. It is good to keep common sense and not succumb to gluten free fashion for no apparent reason.
Gluten is well tolerated by most people in the world. Only in some people its presence in the diet can cause health problems.
5.1. celiac disease
Celiac disease is a celiac disease that involves persistent gluten intolerance . The disease is genetic and belongs to autoimmune diseases based on the inappropriate response of the immune system to its own tissues.
About 1 percent of Europeans, mainly white women with a predominance of women, suffer from celiac disease. Consumption of gluten by the patient is associated with atrophy of the small intestine villi, problems with nutrient absorption and nutritional deficiencies.
The disease can appear at any age, but is most often diagnosed in children. It is incurable, which means that gluten should be avoided throughout life. Symptoms of celiac disease include:
- abdominal bloating
- weight loss
- growth disorders in children,
- skin changes
- nausea and vomiting
- muscle pain,
- problems with concentration,
- high blood cholesterol
- emotional disorders.
Diagnosis of celiac disease is based on a medical history of pain, the results of blood counts and histopathological examination of the small bowel. The only effective way to treat celiac disease is to follow a gluten-free diet.
5.2. Gluten allergy
Allergy to gluten is an inappropriate reaction of the immune system to proteins present in wheat. Most often it is noticeable in children, and some patients over time grow out of having this problem. Symptoms of gluten allergy are:
- abdominal pain,
- vitamin deficiencies
- mineral deficiencies
- chronic fatigue.
The treatment of gluten allergy is primarily based on excluding wheat protein from the menu. Usually, the diet is introduced for a specified period of time and discontinued to check if the ailment persists.
5.3. Gluten intolerance
Hypersensitivity to gluten is neither an allergy nor celiac disease . This is another type of incorrect response of the immune system to gluten intake.
In 2011, scientists confirmed the existence of such a disease entity and determined that it affects several percent of the population and is not related to genetics.
This hypersensitivity occurs mainly in adults, and the symptoms they experience include, among others:
- abdominal pain,
- constant fatigue
- numbness in the limbs
- limb pain
- burning in the esophagus
- nausea and vomiting
- feeling of overflow in the intestines,
5.4. Duhring’s disease
Duhring’s disease is a type of gluten intolerance, mainly manifested by itchy skin and skin eruptions, and to a lesser extent intestinal disorders.
The condition is called a skin manifestation of celiac disease. Duhring’s disease has skin immunity, and the treatment is based on a gluten-free diet and sulfones to relieve symptoms.
6. Gluten free diet
Both people with allergies to gluten and celiac disease should follow dietary recommendations to avoid unpleasant symptoms.
Gluten-free diet is the most effective treatment. It consists in excluding from the diet all products containing a harmful substance.
People on a gluten-free diet must read labels carefully and look for substitutes for their favorite products. Fortunately, there are more and more gluten free products on the market.
Wheat noodles can be replaced with buckwheat or rice. Corn and rice flour, amaranth flour and buckwheat flour work well for baking and preparing food.
Instead of banned groats and flakes, it’s worth reaching for quinoa, amaranth, tapioca, buckwheat and sorghum.
You should also be careful with oat products, the grain itself does not contain gluten, but very often it is contaminated.
It should be remembered that the gluten-free diet is intended to be medicinal and is intended for people who react badly to gluten .
Recently, nutrition has gained popularity as a way to lose weight. The exclusion of macaroni, cakes and bread can of course affect weight loss, because these products contain a lot of carbohydrates.
However, it is worth knowing that an effective reduction diet should not eliminate any group of ingredients from the menu. If we are not allergic to gluten, we do not have to give up on them.