What is gluten and what is it harmful for?

Recently, the real anti-gluten campaign has flared up in the media. Everyone is recommended to limit the products containing this substance, and convince him of exceptional harm to the body. But is it so damaging to gluten? To understand this, it is necessary to understand what it is and how it affects our health. gluten

Where is gluten?

Gluten is a whole group of vegetable proteins, which are called gluten in another way. They are found in such cereal plants as wheat, oats, rye and barley. He was first found in flour. This substance gives the test elasticity and elasticity, so a high content of gluten is a sign of good flour. In many respects it is the taste of baking that depends on it. где содержится gluten In our time, gluten, which is produced from cereals, is widely used in the food industry. It allows you to make the texture of the product more tender, enhances its taste and even acts as a preservative. That is why today gluten is present in a huge number of food products of industrial production. They include:
  • All bakery products, as well as pasta, gingerbread, etc.
  • Cereals that are produced from wheat, rye, oats and barley, for example mango, pearl barley, Hercules.
  • Inexpensive sausages, especially for sausages, sausages and similar products.
  • Dairy products, for example, yogurt, children's mixtures, curds and curds, condensed milk.
  • Canned fish and meat, pates.
  • Meat semi-finished products.
  • Medicines and vitamins.
In fact, gluten can be found in any group of products, where manufacturers want to add it to increase the elasticity of the mass. It can be a sauce, for example, tomato or mayonnaise, ice cream and candy, even french fries in fast food. It is added to cosmetics, for example in lipsticks and creams, to make them more pleasant to the touch. Sometimes he gets there accidentally, along with vitamin "E", extracted from wheat.
Manufacturers do not always indicate gluten in the composition. They can write "textured vegetable protein," "modified food starch," or "hydrolyzed vegetable protein." All these are other names of the same gluten.
As we see, all of us, consciously or not, use gluten every day. At the same time, only some people notice any negative influence on their health. So can gluten and not harm at all?

What is so damaging to gluten?

In fact, mankind has been using gluten for food since the very beginning of its existence and, if it was a poison, would have long ago died out. This protein is no better or worse than the other components of our diet. And, like many other substances, in some people it can cause negative reactions. There are only three diagnoses in which gluten can really hurt a person:
  • Celiakia. This is a serious autoimmune disease, which affects about 0.5-1% of the total population of the Earth. But only in a small percentage of people it is acute. The tendency to celiac disease is determined genetically. But its development begins when gluten enters the small intestine of a child. The intestine of people with this pathology is not able to adequately digest this protein and its use causes a sharp release of antibodies that destroy not only the protein, but also the villi of the intestinal mucosa. This leads to a violation of digestion with the most severe consequences. If properly treated, the mucosa is restored over time, but the patient is prescribed a strict gluten-free diet. The ingestion of this protein into the intestine once again causes a new wave of its destruction. Celiac disease is usually diagnosed in infancy.
  • Gluten Allergy. Like any other protein, it can provoke the development of allergic reactions. Sometimes its manifestations resemble celiac disease, but a blood test for antibodies helps differentiate these diseases. If an allergy is detected in a child, it may pass with time.
  • Hypersensitivity to gluten. It also often resembles celiac disease. But there is a big difference - if hypersensitivity is not triggered autoimmune process, so the intestine is not damaged, and there are no irreversible consequences. It is only necessary to reduce the amount of gluten in the diet, how will the well-being improve. Hypersensitivity can develop at any age, but it does not require special treatment.
Therefore, it can be said with certainty that the damage to gluten is greatly exaggerated. In the United States, statistics were collected that showed that about 0.75% of the country's population is affected by celiac disease, and 5.6% of the population diagnosed with increased sensitivity in different forms. The remaining 93.65% of people can eat products containing gluten, in any comfortable for themselves quantities.

Gluten intolerance in healthy people

Scientists believe that only 100-150 years ago, people with gluten intolerance were much less. Over the past 2 centuries, the number of people with celiac disease has increased 5-fold. The number of healthy people, whose organism suddenly "refuses" to digest some vegetable proteins, also increases. The fact is that modern cereal cultures are very different from those used by our ancestors. For about a hundred years, breeders are engaged in the fact that they constantly bring out more valuable varieties of wheat, rye and oats, which contain more proteins. Therefore, the amount of gluten in a modern manga or pearl bar is much higher than in the same porridge a hundred years ago.
The high content of gluten is one of the reasons why modern pediatricians recommend that parents refrain from supplementary feeding of semolina porridge for children under one year.
If you often have abdominal discomfort after eating dishes from wheat, oats, or rye, do not exclude the possibility that gluten is the cause. In this case, you need to analyze your state of health and fix symptoms. Then you can try to reduce the amount of gluten in the food. If this is really intolerant, your state of health will definitely improve.

Symptoms of gluten intolerance

How can a person who has never faced intolerance to food, suspect that his body does not absorb gluten? Usually draw preliminary conclusions allows the presence of some symptoms:
  • Problems with digestion. This is the most common symptom. After eating gluten-containing foods, a person may start constipation, diarrhea, flatulence, etc. Constipation is more common in children.
  • Hair keratosis, called in the people "goose skin", on the back surface of the hands. It is formed due to a lack of vitamin A and valuable fatty acids, which is formed due to disorders in digestion caused by the use of gluten.
  • Feeling of fatigue and even slowing down of thought processes, "clouding of the mind" after using gluten-containing products.
  • Dizziness and imbalance, as well as other neurological symptoms after eating gluten.
  • Infertility of unexplained genesis, disruption of hormonal balance, severe PMS and polycystic ovary.
  • Migraine.
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia (chronic musculoskeletal pain). To date, their causes have not been clarified, therefore involvement in the development of these symptoms of gluten intolerance is not ruled out.
  • Pain in the joints, inflammation and swelling.
  • Emotional disorders, for example, unreasonable fear, anxiety, sudden mood changes and even attention deficit disorder in children.
Many experts believe that gluten intolerance stimulates the development of autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, psoriasis, ulcerative colitis, multiple sclerosis, and Hashimoto's thyroiditis.
But it is necessary to understand that none of these signs in itself is an occasion for the diagnosis. Moreover, the connection of some of them with the use of this protein is not proved. Therefore, if these symptoms occur, you need to see a doctor to exclude the possibility of another, more serious disease. In parallel, you can limit the intake of gluten-containing foods in the diet. In any case, it does not hurt.

How to check for gluten intolerance?

If you suspected yourself or your loved ones of gluten intolerance, you should immediately determine whether it is celiac disease or not. Practically unmistakable to determine this disease allow:
  • Genetic Analysis. It identifies the genes that are responsible for the development of the disease.
  • Immunological blood test. It allows you to detect antibodies that are characteristic of celiac disease, these are immunoglobulins against tissue transglutaminase and against endomysia.
  • Histological analysis. It is used only in doubtful cases, and it allows you to diagnose with absolute certainty. In the course of the study, fibrogastroduodenoscopy is performed and a sample of the small intestine wall is taken. The presence of a characteristic inflammation confirms the diagnosis.

Most often, such studies are conducted if there is a suspicion of celiac disease in the child. This disease usually manifests itself in childhood, and is very rare in adults. Therefore, if you are an adult and noticed that after eating gluten-containing foods your state of health is disrupted, it is most likely food insufferability.
To make sure that the discomfort is caused by gluten, and not by another substance, it is necessary to keep food diary for 10-15 days. To do this, you need to write down daily what you ate, how much and when, and at the same time record all the changes in your state of health.
If the diary confirmed that the problem is caused by gluten, you must exclude it from your diet completely for 2-3 weeks. If during this time you notice an improvement - the culprit of the problems is found! But keep in mind that gluten from the body can be excreted for several months, so the well-being will completely come back to normal not soon. The longer you last on a gluten-free diet, the better for the purity of the experiment. After a few weeks of dieting, you can eat a little bit of gluten-containing food. If your health deteriorates - there is no turning back, you will have to completely rebuild your diet.

What if my body does not tolerate gluten?

The answer is obvious - to exclude this protein from the diet. Of course, this will not be easy, because gluten is added to many products, even without informing the consumer about it. Therefore, you have to completely change your attitude to nutrition. From this moment you eat only what you have prepared yourself from foods that are 100% gluten free. This is only at first glance frightening. In fact, you will have to give up baking, semi-finished products, sweets, shop sauces and fast food. But is not this recommended by all dieticians? For many, the rejection of gluten was the beginning of a new life, with the right, balanced and healthy diet.