Is a gluten-free diet really healthy?

The global market is seeing an uptick in sales of gluten-free products. Many consumers have abandoned it, considering a gluten-free diet to be healthier and claiming it makes them feel better. Others find that cutting out gluten helps them lose weight. It’s trendy to go gluten-free these days. Gluten is the common name for proteins found in wheat, rye, oats, and triticale. Gluten helps foods keep their shape by acting as a glue. It is found in many products, even those in which its presence is difficult to suspect. As you know, bread is considered a “product of life”, but all varieties of bread containing wheat, rye or barley also contain gluten. And wheat is able to penetrate into many dishes, such as soups, various sauces, including soy. Gluten is also found in many whole grain products, including bulgur, spelt, and triticale. People with celiac disease need a gluten-free diet to avoid the harmful effects of gluten on their health. However, most people seeking a gluten-free diet do not suffer from gluten intolerance. For them, a gluten-free diet may not be optimal, as gluten-free foods contain reduced amounts of important nutrients, including B vitamins, calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium, and fiber. Gluten is not harmful to healthy people. The use of whole grain products (which contain gluten) has also been associated with a reduced risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and certain types of cancer. With celiac disease, there is an inadequate response of the immune system to gluten, the mucous membrane becomes covered with villi. The lining of the small intestine becomes inflamed and damaged, and normal absorption of food becomes impossible. Symptoms of celiac disease include diarrhea, gastrointestinal discomfort, nausea, anemia, severe skin rash, muscle discomfort, headache, and fatigue. But often celiac disease has few or no symptoms, and only 5-10% of cases can be diagnosed. At times, the stress of surgery, trauma, or extreme emotional distress can exacerbate gluten intolerance to the point where symptoms become apparent. How can you know if you have celiac disease? First of all, a blood test shows the presence of antibodies related to an abnormal reaction of the immune system. If the test results are positive, then a biopsy is performed (pieces of tissue are taken for micro- and macroscopic examination) to confirm inflammation of the lining of the small intestine. 

Going completely gluten-free means eliminating most types of bread, crackers, cereals, pasta, confectionery, and many processed foods from your diet. For a product to be labeled “gluten-free”, it must not contain more than twenty parts per million of gluten. Gluten-free foods: brown rice, buckwheat, corn, amaranth, millet, quinoa, cassava, corn (maize), soybeans, potatoes, tapioca, beans, sorghum, quinoa, millet, arrowroot, tetlichka, flax, chia, yucca, gluten-free oats , nut flour. A gluten-reduced diet can improve gastrointestinal health. This may be due to reduced intake of poorly digestible simple sugars (such as fructans, galactans, and sugar alcohols) often found in foods with gluten. Symptoms of bowel disease may disappear as soon as the intake of these sugars is reduced. Gluten does not contribute to obesity. And there is no reliable evidence that a gluten-free diet leads to weight loss. On the other hand, high-fiber whole wheat products can help regulate hunger and control weight. Gluten-free people can easily lose weight as they start eating more fruits and vegetables and consume fewer calories. For the most part, gluten-free alternatives are more expensive, which also contributes to reduced consumption. For most people, eating whole grains (including wheat) is not unhealthy, but to a greater extent means better nutrition and a lower risk of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

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