The truth about Gluten

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This blogpost is going to be a little different.  I wanted to share my two pence about gluten.  Gluten is a type of protein made up of glutenin and gliadin.  These are storage proteins.  Gluten is commonly found in wheat, barley, and rye.  It gives dough its elasticity, allowing it be kneaded, have a chewy texture, and rise well when baking.  Essentially, gluten is found in any breads or baked goods.  It is gliadin which usually causes a negative response by the body.  This is a prolamin protein and those that are actually a celiac or have non-celiac gluten sensitivity tend to have a negative response to gliadin.  This means that individuals have an allergic or autoimmune response; damaging the intestines in the process.  Many people believe that a gluten free diet is healthier than one which has gluten.  This is 100% the case if you are indeed allergic to gluten.  Similarly, if you were allergic to milk of course or lactose intolerant; you are going to buy produce or products that are lactose free.  

The number of products that have been identified as gluten free has significantly risen in supermarkets.  Yes, this is extremely positive for those that are gluten intolerant.  They would not be allowed to eat a lot of things that others are lucky enough to consume without an adverse reaction.  

A gluten free diet for someone who is not gluten intolerant can have a negative impact, and in some extreme cases, be injurious to your health.  In fact, a study published in the BMJ stated that a long term gluten-free diet in adults who are do not suffer from celiac disease have an increased risk of attaining cardiovascular problems.  The study can be read here.  In summary, consumption of gluten does NOT result in cardiovascular detriments, but the avoidance of gluten, and thus wheat products, can increase the risk of heart problems as many 'heart healthy' grains will not be eaten.  These important vitamins and minerals are going to be excluded in your diet.  Wheat, barley and rye are rich in vitamin B, fibre, magnesium and iron.  

Gluten itself may not have huge nutritional value, but it has a small, if any, negative impact on your health if you do not suffer from gluten sensitivity.  A gluten free lifestyle is not easy, but has been so glamourised in media.  Many individuals are not taking the personal initiative to read and research what gluten is all about; especially via specific engines available on pubmed or ovid, instead of articles on non-accredited websites. 

Just because a product is advertised as gluten free, does not mean it will be healthy.  It could be high in sodium, sugar, fat, etc.  Therefore, it will worsen your health as the fibre or vitamins and minerals that are required are absent and one will be taking in a lot of junk in replacement.  

Bottom line, if you do think you have gluten insensitivity or are a celiac, do get checked out by a physician as it is common to misconstrue symptoms as something else such as fatigue, diarrhoea, pain in the abdominal area, etc.  If you come back negative do not eliminate gluten out of your diet.  Although it is assumed that it would cause quick weight loss, this is usually because you would be snacking on less doritos or eating less baked goods such as cake.  I wouldn't actively go scavenging for food in the market that is gluten free. Instead, ensure that the food you are eating is as healthy as possible if one of your main goals for going gluten free is to be healthier or lose weight.  

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