What Is Gluten and Should You Avoid It?


Gluten is a family of proteins found in grains like wheat, rye, spelt and barley. The most common food sources today are bread, pasta, cereal and baked goods.

The two main proteins within gluten are called glutenin and gliadin. Gliadin is responsible for most of the negative health effects.

While most tolerate gluten just fine, it can cause major problems for some. Namely those with Celiac disease, where the immune system attacks gluten as well as the lining of the gut.

But there are many people who do not test positive for celiac disease or wheat allergies, yet still react negatively to gluten. Typical symptoms are diarrhea, stomach pain, tiredness and bloating.

This condition is called non-celiac gluten sensitivity, or gluten intolerance. It’s currently not known how many have this condition, but it’s estimated to be in the range of 0.5–13%.

However, some researchers don’t believe this is a real condition.

One study found that of almost 400 people with self-diagnosed gluten intolerance, 26 had celiac disease, 2 had a wheat allergy, and only 27 of the remaining 364 people were diagnosed as gluten sensitive.

So then what’s gong on with all these reported cases? It’s likely that many people who think they’re gluten intolerant actually have other causes for their symptoms. Irritable bowel syndrome, FODMAP intolerance and wheat allergy are the prime suspects.

But observational studies do suggest those with an autoimmune disease – not just limited to celiac disease – are much more likely to be gluten sensitive.

So there you have it, avoiding gluten for health reasons is only necessary for a small percentage of people.

But if you are one of them, and you want to go gluten-free, the first thing you need to do is start reading the labels on everything you eat.

You’ll soon realize that gluten, especially wheat, is found in a surprising number of foods.

And just remember that a gluten-free label does not automatically mean that a food is healthy.

Gluten-free junk food is still junk food.

Further reading: https://authoritynutrition.com/what-is-gluten/

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Study mentioned in video:

Study 1: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25753138
Study 2: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26043918