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What is Gluten, and Why is It Risky for Some People?

by AgNext about a year ago in healthy
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Gluten content in wheat is becoming a very controversial topic these days. Most experts claim that it is harmless for everyone except for those who have celiac disease. But on the other hand, some health experts believe that gluten is harmful to most people.


What is Gluten?

Gluten is a family of proteins that are detected in grains, including wheat, rye, spelt, and barley. But from the gluten-containing grains, wheat is by far the most popular. The two foremost proteins in gluten are glutenin and gliadin. Gliadin is accountable for most of the unfavorable health effects of gluten. When we mix flour with water, the gluten proteins develop a gluey network that has a glue-like texture. This glue-like quality makes the dough stretchy and gives bread the strength to rise while baking and also contributes to a chewy, satisfying texture. The name gluten originates from this glue-like characteristic of wet dough.

Issues with Gluten

Most people are able to endure gluten with no unfavorable effects. However, it can create problems for people with certain health conditions. This includes such as celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, wheat allergy, and some other diseases.

Celiac Illness

Celiac disease, also spelled as coeliac disease, is the common severe form of gluten intolerance affecting about 1% of the population. It is an autoimmune disease in which the body handles gluten as a foreign intruder. The immune system strikes the gluten content in wheat, as well as the lining of the gut, thus damaging the gut wall and maybe creating nutrient insufficiencies, anemia, severe digestive problems, and an increased chance of having many diseases

However, some people with the celiac illness may not have digestive signs but may have other symptoms, such as tiredness or anemia.

Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity

Many people do not test positive for celiac disease but still do respond negatively to gluten. This type of condition is described as non-celiac gluten sensitivity and researchers do not currently understand how many people have this type of condition, but on the other hand, some researchers consider it to be in the range of 0.5 to 13%.

Signs of gluten sensitivity are diarrhea, stomach pain, tiredness, bloating, and depression.

There is no clear description of non-celiac gluten sensitivity but still a doctor may make this diagnosis when a person responds negatively to gluten.

However, some experts do not think that this is a reasonable condition but they think that substances other than gluten content in wheat create these unfavorable results.

Irritable bowel syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a commonly known digestive disease causing symptoms such as bloating, gas, abdominal pain, cramping and diarrhea or constipation, or both.

It is recognized as a dangerous condition, but most people are able to control their symptoms with diet, lifestyle changes, and stress management methods. And also many studies have revealed that some people with IBS condition may benefit from a gluten-free diet.

Wheat allergy

Wheat allergy may be creating digestive problems after consuming gluten for an estimated 0.2–1% of the population. And on top of this, many studies have confirmed that a gluten-free diet may help some people with schizophrenia, autism, as well as a disease named gluten ataxia.

Gluten intolerance

Discomfort in the digestive system is the most basic sign of gluten intolerance and a person may also have anemia or difficulty obtaining weight. For figuring out what is creating your discomfort, people can ask their doctor to check for celiac illness first.

There are two main ways known that are accurate for finding out if you have celiac disease:

Blood tests: Several blood tests screen for antibodies. A typical one is the tTG-IgA test. If that is positive, the doctor may suggest a tissue biopsy for verifying the results.

Biopsy from small intestine: A health expert takes a small tissue sample from the small intestine that a lab examines for damage.

If a person believes he may have celiac disease, then he should discuss it with his doctor before seeking a gluten-free diet. If the person does not have celiac disease, then the most reliable way for finding out if he is allergic to gluten is to develop a stringent gluten-free diet for a few weeks to notice if symptoms improve. Then after this, he will have to include gluten back into his diet and notice if his symptoms reappear.

If there is no improvement in the symptoms on a gluten-free diet as well as they do not become worse when he introduces gluten again into his diet, then the culprit is presumably something else other than gluten content in wheat.

The gluten-free diet test is not an assured method for diagnosing the problem, and people should not try this on their own. If a person speculates he may have a problem, then he should seek advice from a healthcare provider and get examined for celiac disease or allergies.


About the author


AgNext has innovated & developed full-stack integrated algorithms, software & hardware platform, which addresses food quality assessment issues across the agri value chain, enabling businesses to analyse food on-the-spot in just 30 seconds

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