What exactly is gluten and should we be avoiding it?
In recent years, there has been a lot of controversy when it comes to gluten. But many of us don’t even really know what it is or if we should be avoiding it or not.
In a nutshell, gluten is a family of proteins that is present in cereal grains. It is what makes dough elastic. It’s especially found in wheat and is a mixture of two proteins: glutenin and gliadin. Gliadin is the protein that causes the most health issues with people. For those who become ill, they often have celiac disease.
But while doctors say people with celiac disease should not eat gluten, others say that it’s not good for most of us. So, who can eat it and who should avoid it?
Most people don’t have issues with gluten. However, if you have celiac disease or wheat allergies, it can cause problems with your health. With celiac disease, the body views gluten as an invader. Ergo, your immune system will not only attack the gluten, but also the lining of your stomach. This causes bloating, diarrhea, constipation, fatigue, depression, and headaches. Because celiac disease is difficult to diagnose, approximately 80% of the people who have it don’t even know it!
Non-celiac gluten sensitivity is when you don’t have celiac disease, but can still react to it. You can still have diarrhea, fatigue, bloating, and depress, but not have celiac disease.
Still, others may benefit from a gluten-free diet. These include people with irritable bowel syndrome, wheat intolerance, and other allergies. If you believe you are reacting negatively, it is best to consult your doctor to see if you have celiac disease or any of the other aforementioned intolerances.
If you don’t need to go gluten-free, it is not recommended to do this. Some of the food items that contain gluten are also a major source of B vitamins. You might be missing out on these important vitamins in your diet. This is especially so for women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant. Also, whole wheat contains a lot of fiber. This is important for your digestive system to work property. You need fiber from grains for your bowels to work on a regular basis.
So, just because going gluten-free is a “trendy” thing to do right now, it might not necessarily be for you; you won’t gain anything by not eating it. It is always best to make certain you have an intolerance in the first place by going to a professional who will make the determination.
If you do have an intolerance, there are still other grains you can enjoy. They include rice, quinoa, flax, millet, sorghum, tapioca, buckwheat, arrowroot, oats and amaranth among others! So, you can still enjoy healthy grains and add them to your diet!
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