The Gluten Diet
Compiled by Olusegun Falade
Gluten has been a controversial food topic in recent times. Most sources claim that it is safe for everyone except those who have celiac disease. On the other hand, some health experts believe that gluten is harmful for most people.
But what, really, is gluten?
Gluten is a family of proteins found in wheat, rye, spelt, barley, bread, pasta, cereals, beer, cakes, cookies, pastries.
Of the gluten-containing grains, wheat is by far the most commonly consumed.
The two main proteins in gluten are glutenin and gliadin, but the latter is responsible for most of the negative health effects.
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When flour is mixed with water, the gluten proteins form a sticky network that has a glue-like consistency. This glue-like property makes the dough elastic, and gives bread the ability to rise when baked. It also provides a chewy, satisfying texture.
Interestingly, the name glu-ten is derived from this glue-like property of wet dough.
The Problem with Gluten
Most people tolerate gluten just fine.
However, it can cause problems for people with certain health conditions such as celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, wheat allergy and some other diseases.
Digestive discomfort is the most common indication of gluten intolerance. You may also have anemia or trouble gaining weight.
To figure out what’s causing your discomfort, ask your doctor to check for celiac disease first, before you go ahead on a gluten-free diet.
The following are generally free from gluten:
Corn, Rice, Millet, Sorghum, Tapioca, Amaranth, Oats, Meat, Seafood, Eggs, Dairy products, Fruits, Vegetables, Legumes, Nuts, Tubers, Fats such as oils and butter.
Should You Avoid Gluten?
For the vast majority of people, avoiding gluten is unnecessary.
However, for people with certain health conditions, removing gluten from the diet can make a huge difference.
Furthermore, the diet is usually harmless to try. There is no nutrient in gluten grains that you can’t get from other foods. Just make sure to choose healthy foods.
A gluten-free label does not automatically mean that a food is healthy.
Gluten-free junk food is still junk food.