The detrimental effects of gluten inclusive diets may not be applicable to all. Some people may not be gluten-sensitive. But being aware of glutens possible negative impacts, and the signs to watch for that indicate gluten intolerance is a great first step in preventing possible problems.
One of the main reasons gluten is bad for some individuals is that there are an increasing number of people suffering from undiagnosed celiac disease. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that can occur in people with hypersensitivity to gluten where ingestion of this protein causes damage to the small intestines.
What is Gluten?
Gluten is the general name for a protein found in several types of grains such as wheat, spelt, rye and barley. Examples of products with are breads, gluten baked goods, sauces, soups, pasta, cereals, roux and salad dressings.
Gluten assists food to have its shape, working like a glue that holds food together. Gliadin and glutenin are the two protein compositions of gluten, and it is gliadin that many people have a negative reaction to.
When mixing water with flour, gluten creates a sticky network of proteins giving an elastic characteristic to the dough thereby making the bread fluffy, and causing it to rise when baked.
Hypersensitivity to Gluten
People who are hypersensitive to gluten are actually only hypersensitive to the gliadin protein. Once the food reaches the stomach, it becomes exposed to the immune system’s cells. The problem occurs when the protein is not recognized as a food or nutrient. It is seen as a foreign invader, like bacteria.
For gluten-sensitive individuals, their immune system attacks the gluten proteins as well as an enzyme found in digestive tract cells known as tissue transglutaminase. The result is the immune system attacking both the gluten and the intestinal wall. This process classifies celiac disease as an autoimmune disease. As this occurs, the immune reaction leads to degeneration of the intestinal wall resulting in nutrient deficiencies, various digestive disorders, anemia, fatigue, and increased risks of other serious diseases.
Even if you do not have celiac disease, gluten sensitivity is still possible and you may experience similar symptoms. Adverse reactions may be visible as you consume gluten diets. Such a condition is known as gluten sensitivity or gluten intolerance, which is diagnosed more commonly than celiac disease.
Art of Catering experts advises you that if you are experiencing symptoms of gluten intolerance, one way to self-diagnose is to stop eating breads or pastas for a period of time. If the symptoms improve, then it’s possible your body reacts poorly to gluten foods.
In non-celiac gluten sensitivity, the body’s tissues are free from any attack. But you may experience bloating, stomach pain, fatigue, diarrhea, as well as bone and joint pains.
Effects on the Brain
Along with gluten causing possible damage to the gut, several studies have shown gluten consumption is associated with certain brain disorders. Some patients claimed they have experienced dramatic changes after switching to a gluten-free diet. Many neurological diseases can be aggravated by eating gluten. This condition is known as gluten-sensitive idiopathic neuropathy.
Cerebellar ataxia, a neurological disorder with symptoms such as difficulty to coordinate balance, an unsteady gait, rapid and repetitive eye movements and slurred speech, is seen as partly caused by gluten consumption. The cerebellum is a part of the brain that coordinates motor skills of the body.
Some studies have shown that patients with brain disorders such as schizophrenia, autism and epilepsy have improved when eating a gluten free diet.
Research shows that gluten contains addictive properties. Cravings for bread or donuts are common. Given that gluten may increase permeability in the intestine, especially among celiac patients, some believe that exorphins (a form of brain peptide) can find their way into bloodstream reaching the brain causing addiction.
While gluten causes celiac disease in some individuals, it may also be responsible for other autoimmune diseases such as hashimotos thyroiditis (disease in the thyroid gland), type 1 diabetes, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis and many others.
Should You Stop Eating Gluten?
If you are gluten sensitive and susceptible to celiac disease through experiencing the symptoms, the answer is yes. But it may not mean giving up 100% of the gluten in your diet as it is a basic ingredient in many foods. This is where careful meal preparation comes in. Eating more natural food like vegetables rather than grabbing the first available GMO food and processed food in the refrigerator will help. Eat more fruits like avocado, vegetables, lean protein, dairy, and gluten-free grains like amaranth and quinoa. This diet change is certainly a healthy way of getting back in shape.