We have seen a lot of products have appeared on market with the label Gluten-free. While going through those products a question was raised in mind why exactly do we need gluten-free products? Is gluten bad? Is good to be gluten-free? Does the human body contain gluten? There is a lot of confusion regarding gluten but this article will answer all your questions.
What is gluten?
Gluten is a protein naturally found in grains like wheat, barley, and rye. Its function is to act as a binder providing elastic properties to the food.
Is gluten bad for health?
For centuries we as a human has been consuming gluten through bread, chapati, pasta, etc. Gluten specifically from the whole grain is not bad for healthy people who can tolerate it. However, wheat is stripped down to make processed foods like snacks and crackers thus these refined products hardly resemble the actual whole wheat grain. This processed food contains things white rice flour and starches but not whole grain. Thus, people who follow a gluten-free diet and eat refined products tend to gain weight.
Why gluten-free diet gaining popularity?
Medically, patients suffering from coeliac disease are restricted from consuming gliadin and glutenin protein. But other than coeliac patients a growing enthusiasm is noticed toward the gluten-free diet among the people for its perceived benefit on health, weight loss, treating disease and/or minimising the future risk of disease.
A survey conducted in Australia among 1000 adults indicated that almost 11% chose to avoid wheat, nearly half of those being gluten-free out of which only <1% were diagnosed with coeliac. Almost about 4 out of 5 of those followed a gluten-free diet to relieve symptoms of bloating or abdominal pain. Similarly, according to a survey in the UK 42% of a cohort of patients believed that they have gluten sensitivity out of which 15% tried a gluten-free diet and 12% adopted it. Moreover, the survey press the point it's not only celiac patients who are allergic to gluten there are other known or unwritten conditions due to which people believe in a gluten-free diet.
Does a gluten-free diet reduce weight?
Among all other reasons, weight loss is the primary reason why people are going crazy for a gluten-free diet. Although there is hardly any research confirms about weight loss, the experience of the people adopting a gluten-free diet for weight loss was found positive. There could be numerous reasons behind this belief of weight loss with a gluten-free diet of which the major one is when you avoid a gluten diet you are avoiding the high-calorie foods. For instance, Commonly available pasta has 131 calories/100g whereas if you replace it with gluten-free shirataki pasta or noodles just contains 20 calories/224 g; even people following a gluten-free diet have to give up on the bread, and most desserts which add to calories and weight gain.
Another habit developed in the case of people following a gluten-free diet is checking labels, finding out the source of the food they are eating, hence they know what exactly they are consuming is that pack of food high calory does that have enough fibre, protein required for the body and of course, does it contain glutenin. Therefore gluten-free personal can make a better healthy choice of foods.
Who should avoid a gluten-containing diet?
Following is the list of conditions forcing people to adopt a gluten-free diet:
It is a rare extraintestinal manifestation triggered by the ingestion of gluten that instigates our body to attack parts of our brain in response to gluten. It is also known as sporadic cerebella ataxia which interferes with voluntary muscle movement and control. The most common symptoms of gluten ataxia are difficulty in using fingers, hands arms and/or legs, difficulty speaking, and poor coordination and/or balance.
In people who are allergic to wheat, their body mistakes protein present in the wheat as a disease-causing agent; which in turn triggers the immune system and forms antibodies which result in various symptoms. The common symptoms of wheat allergy are hives or skin rash, breathing difficulties, congestion, runny nose, headaches and sneezing. The inhalation of wheat flour can also stimulate allergy.
It's not necessarily needed that a person should have celiac disease to have gluten sensitivity, it can be observed in normal people. The majority of people advocate for a gluten-free diet because they believe that gluten is the cause of a variety of gastrointestinal conditions. The symptoms of non-celiac sensitivity are bloating, abdominal pain, constipation, headache etc.
In Celiac disease, people can’t tolerate gluten and if they consume more than 10 mg of gluten immune system activation takes place which damages the tiny, hairlike projections that line the intestine. It is an autoimmune disorder which gradually starts damaging the normal nutrition absorption mechanism. Usually, the celiac disease gets activated after the surgery, pregnancy, childbirth, viral infection or severe emotional stress
How to follow a gluten-free routine?
Most of the people who don’t have any above-mentioned disorders are also willing to follow a gluten-free diet because they have experienced that incorporating gluten-free foods help them in weight loss, bloating, and so on. There for either you have gluten sensitivity or you to adopt a gluten-free diet you should be careful before eating any food and you should find out the source of the food.
Some of the Indian foods which can be eaten to replace the gluten-containing foods are dosa, poha, fruits, dhokla, dal, curry with green vegetables, salad, grilled meat, and cucumber lettuce salad, buttermilk, tomato soup, millet vermicelli, boiled egg white and so on.
In short, if you can tolerate the gluten then you can include an adequate amount of gluten in your diet, but if you decide to go gluten-free then first avoid processed food because that gluten no longer resembles the natural gluten coming from whole grain wheat.