Wondering if gluten is bad for you? Read on for the facts about this protein found in many foods.
Whether or not gluten is good for you is one of our generation’s most controversial food topics. While there is enough evidence to show why each side might be onto something, this article details precisely why you should try and avoid gluten.
However, consult a medical professional before making drastic changes to your diet. And, if this article shows you that you are indeed suffering from conditions inflicted by eating gluten, please seek medical advice.
So let’s start with the basics.
What Is Gluten?
Gluten is a protein you can find in wheat, rye, and barley. It is responsible for helping foods retain their shape– basically, it acts as glue. While it is a naturally occurring component, gluten can be easily extracted and then concentrated into a form that can be added to other foods and ingredients to help them retain their shape and add nutritional value and flavor.
Thanks to its extensive use, several foods contain gluten. Some of the most common ones include:
- Some sauces
- Most salad dressings
- Food coloring
- Some oats
Based on the list, it’s imperative to be intentional when choosing what to eat if you are trying to avoid gluten. Luckily, the FDA requires brands to declare if any food contains gluten in its packaging.
Top Reasons to Avoid Gluten
With gluten being a recently discovered ‘evil,’ many people assume that the media is spreading propaganda to convince people to stop taking gluten-rich foods. However, that is not entirely true because there are several reasons why you should cut out or at least reduce gluten from your diet. Below are some of the notable reasons.
According to statistics, up to 13% of the world’s population suffer from Gluten sensitivity. Gluten sensitivity is when someone poses the same symptoms as someone with celiac disease. However, the effects are short-term and hardly require medical help.
Currently, there is little to no research on the root causes of gluten sensitivity and the extent of its symptoms. However, people who suffer from this condition are advised to minimize or avoid gluten foods.
Some of the symptoms of gluten sensitivity include:
- Persistent migraines a few hours after eating
- Muscle and joint pains
- Brain fog
- Tingling and numbness on feet and arms
- Unexplained fatigue
Dermatitis herpetiformis is a medical term to mean skin inflammation. The condition is common in people who have celiac disease or have a relative who does. It manifests by causing painful blisters and skin rashes on your skin and even your teeth enamel.
Typically, the symptoms will appear after an hour or so of eating gluten-rich foods, and the rash/blisters are generally symmetrical. By symmetrical, I mean that if your left leg develops rashes, then chances are you will have the same rashes on the same spot on your right leg, which is a huge indicator that you are indeed suffering from DH.
Dermatitis herpetiformis can be classified as an autoimmune disease mainly because after taking the gluten, your body’s response is releasing antibodies. Then, instead of the antibodies fighting the gluten, they attack the skin, causing blisters or/and rashes.
Celiac disease, otherwise known as Celiac spruce, is an autoimmune disease triggered by eating gluten. While it affects 1 in 100 people, less than 30% of those affected are correctly diagnosed, which is troubling as the condition has adverse long-term effects such as colon cancer, renal failure, and so forth.
When patients with celiac disease eat gluten, their bodies treat it like an immune attack warranting a release of antibodies in the small intestine. And because the said antibodies don’t have anything to attack, they start eating out at the small intestine walls, damaging them. Over time, the intestine lining gets destroyed, promoting malabsorption.
Malabsorption is when the intestines cannot properly absorb nutrients from any food, which can cause damaging effects. Below are some symptoms of celiac disease:
- Weight loss
Some of the long-term effects of celiac disease include:
- Infertility or miscarriage
- Heart diseases
- Liver failure
- Gallbladder malfunction
- Nervous system disease
Just like celiac disease, gluten ataxia is an immune-related disease. When individuals suffering from this disease eat gluten, their body releases antibodies. Instead of going towards digesting the gluten, the antibodies attack the cerebellum.
The Cerebellum is tasked with movement and balance. Therefore, it directly impacts balance, speech, posture, walking, and running. Though the effects of the condition are gradual, they can cause permanent brain damage if left untreated for an extended period.
Sadly, it is only recently that doctors have started testing for gluten ataxia, meaning that the chances of it going undetected are high.
As mentioned earlier, gluten is a type of protein that can be found in grains such as wheat. Therefore, eating and, in some rare cases, inhaling some gluten-rich foods can cause a severe wheat allergy.
An allergic reaction means your body’s immune system is reacting negatively to something that isn’t threatening to ordinary people.
Therefore, if you have a wheat allergy and know the food has gluten, stay away from it. While this might sound easy, it’s not. Many less apparent things contain gluten, such as soy sauce and ice cream.
Some symptoms of wheat allergy include:
- Difficulty in breathing
- Nose congestion
- Runny nose and so forth
Low Nutritional Value
Gluten can be found in nutritious foods such as bread and salad dressing. However, judging by how much food you will need to consume to get the number of nutrients your body needs, it is not worth it to eat said gluten.
Therefore, it is best to find alternative foods that give you more nutritional value and avoid gluten-rich foods. As a bonus, those mentioned above will aid you in losing weight.
Gluten is present in almost all of the common foods in our diets. However, while some people thrive on eating gluten, it might not be the same case for you. You don’t have to suffer from conditions such as celiac to decide to avoid gluten. Govern your nutrition and make better health choices.