A Beginner’s 101 Guide to Gluten

A Beginner’s 101 Guide to Gluten

Gluten has been quite a controversial topic in the health industry. It has created a lot of buzz, leading to gluten-free products flooding the market. Most claims suggest that gluten isn’t suitable for most people. But we’re here to tell you the facts. Those claims only apply to people with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten allergies. 

Because most of the foods we eat daily consist of gluten, giving it up isn’t the easiest of options. However, the Introduction of gluten-free products in the market has introduced a new sort of revolution in the health and food industry. Even though gluten doesn’t impact everyone negatively, more and more people are choosing to go gluten-free for its alleged health benefits. In this blog post, we will be discussing everything there is to know about gluten. This is your beginner’s guide.

What is gluten?

Gluten is a protein that is found in most grains. The most well-known source of gluten is wheat. Others include barley, semolina, rye, etc. Now, you might ask, what does gluten do? Gluten is what acts as a binder in these grains that holds them together. It is what gives them their flexible structure when kneaded into a dough. 

As mentioned earlier, gluten is popularly related to grains like wheat. However, not all grains contain gluten, like millet, buckwheat, corn, quinoa, etc. Ideally, oats also do not contain gluten. However, sometimes the crop gets cross-contaminated due to being grown or processed near grains containing gluten.  Two lesser-known sources of gluten are seitan and soy sauce. 

How does gluten affect the body?

Since gluten is a protein, the body uses protease enzymes to digest it. However, there is a catch. Protease is not completely capable of digesting gluten. This leads to most gluten going undigested. The undigested gluten travels to the small intestine, and most people do not face any issues with it. However, gluten can trigger an autoimmune response or other discomforts in some people. 

Why is gluten bad?

Gluten isn’t bad for the majority of the population. There has been a lot of demonization of this protein lately. But, studies have ensured that gluten isn’t bad for everyone. However, there are people for whom gluten is unbearable to consume. These are people with celiac disease, non-celiac gluten allergy, wheat allergy, and gluten ataxia.

  1. Celiac disease (Gluten intolerance)

Celiac disease is a severe autoimmune condition that prompts the immune system to attack the cells in the small intestine upon ingesting gluten. Like most autoimmune diseases, the exact cause of celiac disease is unknown. However, evidence from a few types of research has suggested it to be a genetic condition. While research is still going on for the medicinal treatment of celiac diseases, the best way to treat it, at the moment, is following a gluten-free diet.

  1. Non-celiac gluten allergy

Some people’s bodies have an aversion to gluten even without being tested positive for celiac disease. Such a condition is known as a non-celiac gluten allergy or gluten sensitivity. Once gluten is eliminated from the diet, the symptoms can quickly be relieved.

  1. Wheat allergy from gluten

This form of allergy pertains to just wheat, in particular. All other sorts of grains, gluten-free or not, can be consumed without discomfort.

  1. Gluten ataxia

Gluten ataxia is an autoimmune condition that directly impacts the brain and cognitive functions. This condition causes your immune system to attack your brain upon ingesting gluten. 

Gluten-free diet

As mentioned, the work for medicinal remedies for gluten-related disorders is still in progress. The best course of action until then is to opt for a gluten-free diet. As the name suggests, a gluten-free diet eliminates any gluten from your diet. It encourages the consumption of wholesome, nutritious foods and gluten-free foods. 

Fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, and grains like rice, quinoa, millet, corn, buckwheat, etc.. are all gluten-free foods. Fats and oils are gluten-free alternatives as well. Examples include:  such as butter, ghee, nuts and seed oils. 

Final thoughts

Gluten isn’t as bad as people have painted it to be. Most people remain completely unaffected by it. However, if you feel that gluten is doing you more harm than good, we suggest you consult your physician for an accurate diagnosis.