Gluten is a protein composite found in grains. Wheat is the most well-known gluten source, but you can also find it in rye, barley and few grains.
Gluten is made up of two proteins: gliadin and glutenin. Gliadin is the one that is the trouble maker. Gluten proteins play a key role in determining the unique baking quality of wheat by conferring water absorption capacity, cohesivity, viscosity and elasticity on dough. Gluten is what makes the mixture sticky and gives the elasticity. It’s what helps bread dough stretch and allows it to rise when you bake it. It’s what helps the chapatti to stretch and gives the elastic feel.
What harm does it do?
A scientific review published in the New England Journal of Medicine listed 55 diseases that can be caused by eating gluten. Below are the most common diseases that is caused by gluten.
- Gluten disrupts the barrier of the intestine, which allow harmful substances to leak through into the bloodstream.
- It is one of the major culprits of the “leaky gut” syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease and autoimmune disease.
- Gluten causes chronic fatigue and depression.
- It makes the body inflamed, resulting in effects all throughout the body. This means gluten can affect your brain just as well as it can affect your joints or digestive tract. The brain can suffer just like your body can. Research has found that some schizophrenia patients experienced huge improvements when they stopped eating gluten. A gluten-free diet could be key in resolving long-term symptoms.
- Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder whereby your immune system attacks the small intestine whenever you consume gluten. Over time, this can lead to all kinds of health issues like fatigue, malnutrition, joint pain and depression.
- Gluten intolerance (or gluten sensitivity), another disorder where you react badly to gluten, is much more common than celiac disease.
Most of us have been eating gluten regularly for as long as we can remember. We might not even realize the damage it’s doing because we just think of the way we feel as “normal.”
Wheat itself has changed dramatically over the past few decades. Today’s wheat contains more gluten and fewer vitamins and minerals than the grains our ancestors ate, which explains why the percentage of people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance is increasing so quickly.
Bottom line: you don’t have to have a celiac diagnosis – or even gluten intolerance – to be affected. A lot more people are intolerant to it than previously thought, and compelling new research is supporting this. The number of people with gluten intolerance will probably keep increasing as wheat’s nutritional profile is changed.
Here’s a list of foods and drinks in which gluten is usually found:
- Chapatti, Parantha & Roti made from wheat
- Poori made from wheat
- Baked goods (cakes, cookies, donuts, muffins, pretzels)
- Food additives
- Soup mixes
What foods should you choose?
Even if your body can tolerate gluten, the foods that contain it have other issues which can destroy your health. That means the upside of eating gluten is nonexistent.
Going gluten-free is one of the most popular trends in health.
Unfortunately, a lot of people are getting fooled at the grocery store. Buying something just because it’s gluten-free doesn’t magically make an unhealthy food healthy.
This kind of thinking leads people to buy potato chips and expensive cookies (which are still loaded with sugar) just because they don’t contain gluten. A lot of gluten-free versions are heavily processed and still junk foods if they contain sugars, preservatives and other chemicals. Looking at all the ingredients is the only way to be sure.
Focus on the basics. Quality, gluten free, Non-GMO, organic – grains like millets, animal proteins, fruits and vegetables were enough for our ancestors to thrive on. And they’re enough for you to thrive on too!
You could try cutting gluten out of your diet for a while and experience the difference for yourself.