What is Gluten?
Gluten is a protein found typically in grains like wheat, barley and rye. It is used to improve the texture of baked goods, as a thickening and binding agent in others as well as enhance flavour of certain foods.
While this grain protein has multiple uses, there has been a growing awareness of a number of people who have displayed allergic reactions to its consumption.
Why is gluten bad for you?
Gluten-free dieting is a way of eating necessitated by a condition known as celiac disease. People suffering from celiac disease are unable to process the wheat protein called gluten in their bodies and are susceptible to various uncomfortable symptoms. Some may even develop a weaker immune system due to the presence of gluten.
Any ingestion of gluten in such cases results in the lining of the small intestine being severely damaged. The damage caused to the gut lining makes for malabsorption of certain nutrients and the individual may begin to suffer from serious nutritional deficiencies.
Gluten induces severe inflammation of the digestive tract and can lead to more harsh symptoms if not checked in time.
Others who are not diagnosed with celiac disease can still exhibit gluten intolerance or allergies to wheat and other grains.
The most common concerns that arise from gluten consumption include the following:
- Gut inflammation
The proteins found in wheat are gut irritants. It can cause inflammation which can lead to increased intestinal permeability. This indicates that the gut loses control over what passes through the intestinal walls, letting bacteria and toxins to leak through.
- GI issues
Gluten-related intestinal permeability can also lead to common gastrointestinal issues like bloating, diarrhoea, constipation, and abdominal pain to name a few. All are caused by damaged gut lining and poor nutrient absorption.
- Brain symptoms
Celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity often bring about brain fog and mental fatigue. Individuals have experienced forgetfulness, difficulty thinking and feeling cloudy.
- Skin problems
Gluten intolerance is also believed to affect the skin. The most prominent skin diseases associated with celiac disease is Dermatitis Herpetiformis, but other inflammatory conditions like psoriasis, alopecia areata, and chronic urticaria have also been linked to the consumption of gluten.
Benefits of giving up gluten
The diet, by excluding all things gluten is able to help manage not only these but other symptoms and discomfort as well. For people who do not have an intolerance nor an allergy, the gluten-free diet is appealing as it has been studied to show results regarding better digestive health, regulating cholesterol levels, and even assisting with weight loss.
While it is not gluten itself that leads to weight gain, it is all those foods that are sources of gluten which pack on the pounds. Foods that are allowed on a gluten-free diet can assist in regulating weight gain because it encourages you to eat more whole, unprocessed food and avoid processed versions.
This diet change is often healthier and lower in calories. Research shows that eating a gluten-free diet can have a beneficial effect on Body Mass Index or BMI.
On another front, eliminating gluten has been seen to improve cognitive functioning. Research indicates that gluten removal can help with symptom management in conditions like bipolar disorder, depressive symptoms, schizophrenia, autism and ADHD.
So whether your reasons to turn to a gluten-free diet are based on getting relief from uncomfortable symptoms, achieving better health or simply losing those unwanted pounds, cutting gluten from the diet can help you address all these issues and improve your energy levels. Instead, consider sugar and refined carbohydrate reduction diet as a healthier eating option, and one that fashions its meals on gluten-free ingredients.