Understanding Gluten: Its Impact on Health and Who Should Avoid It

Understanding Gluten: Its Impact on Health and Who Should Avoid It

Image: Nil Taskin Digital Art

Gluten is a group of proteins found in many foods, particularly in wheat, barley, and rye. This protein plays a crucial role in baking by providing elasticity to dough. However, for individuals with conditions like celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, gluten-containing foods can pose serious health issues. This article explores what gluten is, why it’s unhealthy for some people, and the problems it can cause.

Gluten is a group of proteins found in certain grains, primarily wheat, barley, and rye. It gives dough its elasticity, helping it rise and maintain its shape during baking. While gluten is harmless for most people, those with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity can experience adverse effects when they consume gluten-containing foods.

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the lining of the small intestine when gluten is ingested. This can lead to damage to the intestinal lining, nutrient malabsorption, and various symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, fatigue, and even neurological symptoms.

Non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) is a condition in which individuals experience symptoms similar to those of celiac disease when they consume gluten, but without the autoimmune response or intestinal damage seen in celiac disease. Symptoms of NCGS can include gastrointestinal discomfort, fatigue, headache, joint pain, and foggy thinking.

For individuals with celiac disease or NCGS, avoiding gluten-containing foods is essential to prevent symptoms and maintain good health. However, it’s important to note that for the vast majority of people who don’t have these conditions, gluten-containing foods are perfectly safe and can be part of a healthy diet.

Image: Nil Taskin Digital Art

Is gluten naturally occurring in flours, or is it added during industrial processing?

Gluten is naturally present in certain grains, particularly wheat, barley, and rye. When these grains are milled into flour, the gluten remains in the flour. So, gluten is naturally occurring in wheat flour, barley flour, and rye flour.

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In industrial food processing, gluten may also be added to foods for various purposes, such as improving texture or acting as a binder. For example, gluten may be added to processed foods like bread, pasta, cereal, and baked goods to enhance their elasticity and structure. Additionally, gluten is sometimes used as a thickening agent in soups, sauces, and gravies.

However, it’s important to note that not all industrial food products contain added gluten, and many gluten-free alternatives are available for those who need to avoid gluten due to celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity.


Nil Taskin