What’s up, foodies?
If you’re like me and everyone else, you probably love bread, carbs and all that jazz, even if it’s not good for you. I’m sure you’ve heard enough about carbs to last you two lifetimes, and you probably feel the same way about gluten, but how much do you really know about this protein?
What gluten actually is
Gluten is a protein that has molecules known as gliadin and glutenin that make an elastic-type bond when they are mixed with water. This is why gluten is so often used in foods like cakes and breads, because it provides that spongy texture that bakers are usually after. It is also in many flours, brans and germs, which explains why it shows up in everything from pastas and beers to gravies, dressings and sauces.
While it does great things for baked goods, the same isn’t true for what it does to your body. Research indicates that gluten can cause harm because of some of the complications it can cause.
What gluten does
The major issue with gluten is that it can prevent the proper breakdown and absorption of nutrients from foods, and this happens whether those goods have gluten in them or not. This can prevent you from digesting things correctly since excess gluten can lead to the formation of a “glued” lump in your gut that causes constipation. That undigested gluten prompts your immune system to attack the lining of your small intestine, according to the Celiac Disease Foundation (https://celiac.org/about-celiac-disease/what-is-celiac-disease/), and can leave you with stomach pain, nausea, constipation or diarrhea.
Over time, eating too much gluten can make the inflammation and damage to your small intestine worse, leaving you short on nutrients you need for your body to work properly. At that point, you become vulnerable to a large variety of conditions, including osteoporosis, anemia and complications with your nervous system and liver, to name just a few.
People can be allergic to gluten, intolerant to gluten, sensitive to gluten or have a condition known as celiac disease. The disease is an autoimmune condition, according to Coeliac UK (https://www.coeliac.org.uk/information-and-support/coeliac-disease/about-coeliac-disease/gluten-sensitivity/) and not simply a food intolerance or sensitivity.
Gluten can be harmful to many people, and it can be hard to tell which side of the fence you fall on. Eliminating all gluten from your diet can help you determine whether you are suffering from any negative effects when you eat it.