In this extremely health conscious world of today, consumption of gluten is another topic on which the scientific community seems to be divided. Most of the health experts believe that gluten is only harmful to people with some specific medical condition. On the other hand, few nutritionists believe that it is better to have gluten-free diet even if you are not suffering from any disease.
According to a survey from market research company NPD, more than 30 percent of US citizens proactively try to avoid gluten-laden meals. This number is a clear indication that today’s society is also divided between the harms and benefits of gluten. As we all know, wheat is the most regularly consumed gluten-laden grain in the world. So it is important to comprehend the gray area associated with the consumption of gluten, but let’s start by properly understanding what gluten actually is.
Gluten: A Grain-based Protein
The term ‘gluten’ refers to the two proteins abundantly found in grains like wheat, barley and rye. Glutenin and gliadin are these two proteins classified by the name gluten. Some studies have concluded that gliadin is the culprit behind the most of the adverse health effects associated with gluten. Gluten gets its name due to the glue-like property of wet dough or flour, which consists of a sticky meshwork formed by the two gluten proteins present in the flour.
Is Gluten all Bad?
No, this is not the case at all. There are some medical and physiological conditions where certain individuals become intolerant to gluten consumption. Here, we will discuss these medical conditions.
Celiac disease is a type of autoimmune disorder in which the immune system of the body perceives gluten as foreign bodies (invaders actually). Immune systems are naturally designed to attack all such foreign bodies. So, when white blood cells attack the gluten particles, the gut lining of the digestive tract also get collaterally damaged.
According to the statistics gathered through National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, celiac disease affects around 1 percent of the US population. Damage to the lining of the gut can result in anemia, nutrient deficiency and acute digestive problems. Celiac disease is usually heredity in nature. Due to its subtle symptoms, most of the affected people (around 80%) don’t even know that they are suffering from the disease.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is another very prevalent digestive disorder that affects the colon (AKA large intestine) and people who have it often complain of severe abdominal pains and cramps, diarrhea and gas buildup in the digestive tract. IBS is a chronic disease and it can get aggravated by the consumption of gluten-containing foods; however, sometimes IBS gets confused with Celiac disease. If you have symptoms similar to those mentioned above, it is best to discuss with your doctor, who can run the necessary tests to determine which disease it is, usually by the process of elimination.
Some people suffer from a rare condition of wheat allergy where their digestive system gets worked up after the consumption of gluten-rich meals.
So there are instances where gluten-containing foods can become a source of trouble for people. To make sure that gluten is not inflicting its detrimental effects on your health, you can have yourself tested for gluten intolerance.
Blood tests and tissue biopsies are usually conducted to make ascertain that whether one is suffering from celiac disease and gluten intolerance.
However, if you don’t have the condition of gluten intolerance then there is no harm in consuming this composite of proteins. In fact, actively depriving yourself of gluten-containing foods can have some adverse consequences as well.
According to the research study put forward in this year’s session of American Heart Association’s Epidemiology and Prevention, making your diet free of gluten can increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. This research was observational and studied the impact of low-gluten and gluten-free diet on more than 100,000 participants. The same observational study also concludes that people eating a normal amount of gluten are 13 percent less likely to get diabetes.
If you are concerned about eating foods that contain gluten, then concentrating on these foods may be a benefit.
If you have read the whole article then it might have become very easy for you to take the decision regarding gluten. To put it in a more categorical manner, gluten is inherently not harmful to human consumption except in certain medical conditions. Therefore, people who avoid gluten-containing foods for no reason don’t have to do it because it is totally healthy to consume gluten in normal, healthy diets.