What is Gluten?

We’ve heard the word gluten quite a lot when talking about wellness. We can even say that the word has become trendy because of the gluten-free diet whose popularity rose, even more, thanks to the world’s best tennis player for 2020, Novak Djokovic.

So what is gluten and why are many people avoiding or have it completely removed from their diets?

Gluten can be found in a host of grains and most-specifically, those that are used in the making of baked goods like bread, pizza, muffins, cookies, and so on. Most-common grains that produce gluten when baked are wheat, rye, and barley, but these are not the only ones.

We can say that gluten is latent when the grains are whole, however, once the grains are milled for flower or soaked in water, the two main proteins that comprise gluten – glutenin and gliadin, begin to form a glue-like substance. Hence the word gluten.

This substance is what gives your bread or baked pastry the stretchy texture and, not without a surprise, it is this texture that makes eating wheat-based products so tasty and satisfying. 

So why do some people avoid gluten?

Allergy and inadequate autoimmune response to Gluten can cause a number of adverse reactions in some people. These can range from fatigue to bloating to digestive problems, but also skin rashes, diarrhea, and cramps.

 

Thankfully, the majority of people are not affected by such responses to gluten consumption. Medical research suggests that between 0.5% and 6% of the global population may suffer from some kind of gluten intolerance or allergy. The most dangerous kind – Celiac disease – affects about 1% of people globally.

The general conclusion is that consuming foods that contain gluten does not always cause a bad reaction, even in the 6% of the people that may have suffered from it, but that depends how often it is consumed.

Nevertheless, the percentage of people who are avoiding gluten or have completely removed gluten foods from the diet, but don’t have any sort of intolerance or allergy, is rising.

 

Some of the key reasons are:

 

– Gluten takes between 40 and 72 hours to be digested and transit through the intestines. A gluten-free diet causes the body to feel lighter and more energetic.

 

– Foods with gluten can add more kilograms to your body mass. The chewy, stretchy nature of dough digests into a glue-like substance that can cause the gut to “hold on to fat”, according to Dr. Oz.

 

– Gluten can make some people feel bloated. It’s just the nature of the beast. Bread and pizza, especially those that are made with wheat dough and additives, can be severely unhealthy and disrupt digestion. 

If you don’t have gluten intolerance or allergy but you want to take a healthier turn with your diet, you don’t have to kick this food group completely. You can try eating less bread, pizza, cookies and other products that contain gluten, especially if these find their way on your daily menu.

 

Most importantly, if you succeed in cutting down on your intake of gluten foods, you can go one step further and replace this food with gluten-free grains like buckwheat, quinoa, amaranth, oats and brown rice.

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