What’s the big deal about gluten? Why has it dominated food adverts in our groceries and stores? Why are there so many articles on various blogs about gluten and gluten free foods? Is it something that you should be bothered with? Is it just another fad passing by and will soon go away? Why are so many people keen on gluten-free diets? Well, today, we want to delve deep into gluten and discuss its significance in diet and whether you should avoid it or not. So, what is gluten?
Gluten is a general name for the category of proteins found naturally in wheat, barley, semolina and rye. Gluten helps foods to maintain theirs distinct shape and is used as an adhesive to hold the food particles together. Gluten is found in very many foods because manufactures use it to increase the bulk of those foods and hold and food particles together. This means that gluten can be found in a number of processed foods which don’t naturally have Gluten in them. Manufacturers and food processors will include the gluten intentionally in their processed foods for the sake of bulk and increasing the fiber content. Some processors will open declare the presence of gluten in their foods while others will not let their customers know of the availability of gluten in their processed foods.
Is gluten an essential nutrient?
Gluten, is just a storage protein and is not regarded as essential in our diets. This means that we can do without it. If anything, Gluten is believed to cause some complications in people and this essentially is the cause of all the fuss and talk you are hearing about gluten and gluten-free foods. About 1% of the world’s population, is said to be celiac. These are people who suffer from the celiac disease which is an immune reaction triggered by eating foods containing gluten. A further 10% of the world’s population is said to have gluten sensitivity which triggers certain gastrointestinal distress. These are diseases which were initially prevalent in dogs and gluten-free food was meant for dogs which had food intolerance. Slowly though, some people started realizing that the gluten triggered some form of reactions from their immune systems and that is how the gluten-free foods were born.
Is gluten bad for everyone?
Gluten is not bad for everyone and you should not be concerned if you are not part of the 10 percentile who are either gluten sensitive or suffer from celiac disease. A lot of people are able to eat cereal, breads and grains which contain gluten without any negative reactions. Actually, people have unknowingly been consuming gluten in a lot of foods which are not necessarily grains or cereals. The gluten-free tags and slogans you hear and see on various foods in the grocery stores and in food commercials on television, are just marketing gimmicks meant to attract your attention and make you buy the said products. This however does not mean that you should avoid gluten-free foods. If you are not a celiac and don’t have any form of gluten sensitivity, eating gluten-free foods will not make any difference. It is just the same as eating foods with gluten because the proteins don’t have any significant roles in the diet and are there solely for the sake of increasing the bulk of food and holding it together.
What if I am Celiac or have Gluten intolerance?
On the other hand, if you realize that every time you eat certain breads, grains and cereals your body reacts and you experience symptoms such as nausea, diarrhea, irritation of the throat, skin hives, eye irritation and nasal congestion, then you need to desist from eating gluten foods. The symptoms mentioned above are indicative of celiac disease and gluten intolerance. Every time you ingest gluten, your body mistakes the protein as an allergen and triggers the production of histamine on the surface of cells. The histamine is responsible for the reactions that you experience when you ingest the gluten.
Is there a cure for gluten intolerance?
Just like all allergic reactions, there is no known cure for the celiac disease and gluten intolerance. This means that the only way to stay clear of the symptoms associated with gluten is to desist from eating foods with gluten. Always check for the gluten-free tag every time you buy food in the grocery store and if you are not sure, ask one of the attendants to help you shop for gluten free foods. There are very many foods which are naturally gluten-free and these are the foods that you should always consume. Foods such as meat, fish, vegetables, fruits, eggs and legumes are gluten free and should be part of your diet. On a lighter note, it is important to note that most people end up outgrowing their gluten intolerance and by the time they are adults, their bodies can comfortably stomach gluten without triggering any form of reactions.