16 Mar Why Are so Many People Going Gluten Free?
Now-a-days, no matter where you go there is something for everybody. From vegetarian to vegan, dairy free, sugar free, paleo, the list goes on and on! This includes GLUTEN FREE, but what is gluten? Gluten is a protein and can be found in certain grains like wheat, barley, and rye. Although these grains are mostly made up of carbohydrates, the small amount of Gluten protein (6%) is what makes them unique from other grains and plants. Gluten makes dough stretchy, which makes products chewy, which is why these gluten-containing grains are often used to make things like bread, pasta, pastries, bagels, and crackers.
Now that we know what Gluten exactly is, why is it offered on so many menus and recipes? When you eat something that contains Gluten, it travels down through your digestive tract, to your intestines, where all your food is digested. While a protein itself, Gluten is made up mainly of two smaller proteins called Gliadin and Glutenin. When digested, Gliadin and Glutenin are broken down into tiny chains of amino acids called peptides. The issue is the human body doesn’t produce the enzymes to break down some of these peptides, which means tiny bits of gluten will always remain undigested.
Gluten can cause many health issues for people. Celiac disease is probably the most widely known gluten issue. Celiac is an autoimmune disease. That means when you ingest gluten your immune system doesn’t just try to protect your body from the gluten, it also attacks your intestinal cells. Non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGC) is the non-autoimmune form of gluten reactivity. NCGC is much more common than celiac. The same genetic factors that predispose you to celiac also predispose you to non-celiac. However, in NCGC, your immune system responds to protect you from gluten, but it does not attack healthy tissue. Just as with celiac, the presence of intestinal permeability will result in many negative effects. Those who suffer from celiac disease or NCGC should avoid gluten altogether.
Gluten doesn’t just affect your body inside, you may have visible reactions like:
Headaches, Fatigue, Irritability, Anxiety, Joint pain, Skin rashes
Many people go Gluten Free just to make a healthier choice for their bodies even if they don’t have a Gluten Sensitivity. How do you know for sure if you have a Gluten Sensitivity? Gluten sensitivity is sneaky, and it doesn’t show up in standard blood work. There is no “official” test for it, yet. Most doctors will recommend a diet of exclusion, i.e. avoid gluten for at least three weeks, note how you feel, and then reintroduce it to see if eating gluten makes you feel worse.