Gluten is a substance that is part of the protein of wheat, barley, rye and most other cereal crops. The more gluten is contained in flour, the easier it is to make dough that turns into air baking. Gluten content in premium wheat is up to 30%.
The body of some people perceives gluten as an allergen. The key symptoms of intolerance are a drop in immunity and a malfunction of the gastrointestinal tract. Recent research also suggests that gluten-free foods can be harmful to ordinary people.
// What is gluten?
Gluten (or gluten) is a group of proteins that make up cereals. Gluten is found not only in all baked goods, white wheat bread, ordinary pasta and any pasta, but also in products made with the addition of wheat flour as a thickener (sauces, semi-finished products). A complete table of gluten-containing products is here.
Proteins of the gluten group are able to retain carbon dioxide¹. Gluten makes the dough porous, which in combination with yeast-triggered fermentation processes during baking gives a characteristic airiness of the product. For the same reason, gluten increases gas formation in the stomach and makes the habit of feeling “full of food” in the stomach. It causes individual harm to patients with celiac disease, causing an allergic reaction.
Note that wheat starch processing products are widely used in the cosmetics industry. Small amounts of gluten can be found in powder, mascara, lipstick, toothpaste, shampoos and shower gels. Despite the fact that for most people this is completely harmless, in the presence of an allergy to gluten, such products can cause irritation.
// Gluten - briefly:
- Cereal Protein Component
- Provides an airy baking dough structure
- Used as a thickener
- May be contained in cosmetics.
How harmful is gluten?
It is important to separate the harm of products with gluten content and the harm of gluten. Since gluten is a key component of wheat flour, it is found in significant quantities in bread and baked goods. It is such products that cause a quick gain in excess weight, while the rejection of carbohydrates is useful for weight loss (this is the basis for a carbohydrate-free diet ).
On the other hand, the immunity of some people perceives the gluten contained in food as an allergen, causing the body to fight it. Since gluten comes with food, the stomach is primarily damaged. Intestinal functions are impaired, the level of assimilation of nutrients decreases, the condition of the skin and internal integuments worsens (including due to a decrease in the ability to assimilate collagen).
The effect of gluten on metabolism
Recent scientific studies suggest that the use of gluten-containing foods harms the metabolism of even those who are not allergic to this substance. In an experiment, gluten lowered the body's energy requirements for basic metabolism (in other words, slowed down metabolism), and also acted on a number of hormones produced in visceral fat .
Recall that visceral fat is the fat surrounding the internal organs. Unlike subcutaneous fat, it is actively involved in metabolism. The hunger hormone leptin is produced specifically in visceral fat, and obesity is often associated with leptin resistance - the body's inability to send saturation signals correctly. The brain seems to stop seeing that there are enough fat reserves.
A scientific study in mice showed that, following a diet with the same amount of calories, those mice that ate gluten gained more weight². They also noted a different composition of adipose tissues - the brown type of fat was especially strong in the two groups of animals. According to the results, a gluten-free diet affected the metabolic processes of oxygen.
// Possible harm to gluten:
- reduces basic metabolic needs
- affects the metabolic processes of oxygen
- affects the hormones of visceral fat
- increases microinflammation
Gluten and Overweight
The indirect harm of gluten lies in the fact that it provokes fermentation and forms the habit of feeling “full stomach” after eating. In addition, gluten-containing foods (primarily bread and pasta) absorb moisture and significantly increase their volume during digestion. A similar effect is not observed when eating vegetables or meat.
Gradually, a person develops a habit of feeling full from food in the form of a bloated stomach - eating gluten-free foods seems inadequate. The high glycemic index of high-processed wheat products also causes harm - the use of flour leads to spikes in glucose in the blood, gradually weakening the body's sensitivity to insulin.
Is gluten harmful?
From a scientific point of view, the answer to the question “Is gluten harmful” is denial. The relationship between the use of gluten-containing products and metabolic disorders is ambiguous - in the end, the combination of food in the diet of a particular person plays a role. In its pure form, in healthy people, gluten does not cause allergic reactions, which is interpreted as its safety.
The question of the effect of gluten on weight gain is also open. If a person does not exceed the daily calorie intake , gluten-free foods do not cause additional fat deposition. Increased appetite due to changes in blood glucose levels and a feeling of a full stomach are only secondary factors. They only affect some people. For others, gluten will be harmless.
Gluten Free Products
Any food products made from wheat, rye and other grain crops contain gluten. It is believed that the average person consumes from 10 to 40 grams of gluten per day³ - most of it falls on products such as bread and other pastries, pasta, pasta. Ultimately, up to 10-15% of their dry weight is gluten.
Also, in quantities sufficient to cause allergies, gluten as a thickener can be part of ketchup, sauces and other products (including ice cream) - in this case, it is often referred to as “modified food starch” or “hydrolyzed protein”. Among other things, gluten particles can enter the product during production.
// Where Gluten Is Contained:
- any kind of wheat
- rye, barley, oats
- many sweets
- thick yogurts
- thick sauces
- semi-finished meat
- ready-made vegetable soups
- some alcoholic drinks
Complete gluten-free foods table .
Gluten Free Oatmeal
Oats are also a cereal crop. Its composition contains proteins of the gluten group - prolamins. More specifically, oatmeal contains avenines. By their structure, these substances are close to wheat gliadins and rye secalin. That is, a gluten-like substance in oatmeal is contained. However, in most cases, the body of people with celiac disease is still able to digest and absorb this substance 4 .
The role is played by the fact that the biological activity of avenins varies depending on a number of factors - the variety and method of growing a particular plant, as well as the distribution of grain structure and combination with amino acids. At the same time, the most dangerous, wheat gluten, often gets into oatmeal during grinding of grains, since the process is carried out on the same equipment.
Gluten Free List
Gluten-free foods include all types of meat, fish, dairy products, eggs, pseudo-cereal crops (primarily buckwheat and quinoa ), rice, corn, peas and other legumes, all nuts, vegetables and fruits 4 . However, it is important to understand that we are talking about products without processing - for example, corn flakes may contain gluten, while pure corn does not contain it at all.
Similarly, if the meat itself (beef, pork, and so on) does not contain gluten, then meat cutlets most often contain it, since they use bread crumb for their preparation. Gluten is also absent in chicken, but in deep-fried chicken (especially in chicken wings) it may be present in the form of breading.
// Complete list of gluten-free products:
- beef, pork, chicken and other meat
- the eggs
- all kinds of fish
- milk, kefir, natural yogurt, cottage cheese, cheese, butter
- vegetable oils
- any vegetables
- rice, corn (including cornmeal)
- peas, soybeans, mung bean, beans
- buckwheat, quinoa, sorghum and other pseudo-cereal crops
- all kinds of nuts and seeds
- all kinds of berries
- all kinds of fruits and dried fruits
- dark chocolate
Gluten Free Diets
If a person has gluten intolerance (a disease called celiac disease), a strict gluten-free diet should be followed. The diet may include only the foods specified above. In this case, the rejection of gluten is becoming an increasingly popular method of proper nutrition, even for those people who do not suffer from celiac disease.
The most popular gluten-free diets are the paleo diet (the so-called “caveman diet” or the “crossfiter diet”) and the keto diet - just like any carbohydrate-free diet. The exclusion of carbohydrates from the diet means the exclusion of products containing gluten. Nutrition is limited exclusively to meat food, all kinds of fats and vegetables.
Celiac disease - gluten allergy
An acute allergy to gluten and its products - a disease called "celiac disease" - occurs in about 1% of the population, or, on average, in one person out of 100-150³. In such people, the use of even small doses of gluten (up to several grams of bread) can cause serious food allergies with unpleasant symptoms.
It is worth mentioning that scientific research suggests that gluten intolerance is a genetic disease, inherently similar to an allergy to lactose . In other words, if your parents or relatives have celiac disease, you are probably also affected.
// Gluten Intolerance:
- rare genetic disease
- characterized by violations of the digestive tract
- reduces immunity
Gluten Allergy - Symptoms
Most symptoms of gluten intolerance relate to various disorders of the digestive system after eating gluten-containing foods - from regular bloating and indigestion to chronic diarrhea. In most cases, the stool becomes pale and foamy, it has a sharp unpleasant odor³.
Secondary symptoms of gluten allergy are chronic headaches, excessive hair loss, decreased immunity, and decreased metabolism. Unfortunately, the diagnosis of celiac disease is most often difficult, and many who suffer from it do not even realize that gluten harms their body. In addition, gluten intolerance may occur after illness or pregnancy.
Gluten intolerance - how to identify?
The easiest home-made way to detect gluten intolerance is to switch to a gluten-free diet and completely eliminate all bread and any other gluten-containing foods from the diet for two weeks, as well as a careful assessment of your well-being. The subsequent return of gluten to the diet will be indicative - especially if you suddenly begin to feel its harm.
Since it takes 10-14 days to fully restore the intestinal microflora, if you are allergic to gluten, first you should feel better in your health, and after returning to normal foods, it will get worse. However, the only accurate method for detecting gluten intolerance is a medical test for celiac disease in a special clinic.
Gluten is a substance that makes up wheat protein. In a small number of people, it can cause food allergies and lower immunity - a disease called celiac disease. At the same time, recent scientific studies suggest that the use of gluten can be harmful to healthy people. In particular, it is able to influence the production of hormones in visceral fat.
- Molecular Oxygen and Reactive Oxygen Species in Bread-making Processes, source
- Wheat gluten intake increases weight gain and adiposity associated with reduced thermogenesis and energy expenditure in an animal model of obesity, source
- How much gluten is in a normal diet, source
- Why Oats Are Safe and Healthy for Celiac Disease Patients, source
- Gluten free-diet, source