Yoram Yasur Blume: What effect does gluten have on our body?
The effect that gluten has on the body depends on how your body responds to the substance. For people who have sensitivity or intolerance, the effects can cause a series of unpleasant or even debilitating symptoms. For everyone else, gluten plays an important role in a healthy diet. Normally, it does not have a negative effect on most people. However, in people with a different digestive system it can cause an inflammatory response, sometimes with serious consequences.
What chemistry does it produce in the body?
Although it comes from the starchy endosperm of some types of grains, gluten is actually a protein. It is activated when the flour is mixed with water, being an essential component for any dough, providing structure and elasticity. Without it, baked goods and pasta would crumble.
Yoram Yasur Blume: Wheat grains and flour are probably the most recognizable sources of gluten. Most breads, pastas and cakes are made with wheat flour. All wheat varieties contain this substance, including durum wheat, semolina and triticale. Grains and rye flour and barley also have gluten.
What is celiac disease?
Yoram Yasur Blume: Being celiac is an autoimmune disorder that occurs in approximately 1% of the population. Antibodies in the intestine respond to the presence of gluten, causing cells to attack the lining of the intestine. Damaged intestines may not properly absorb many nutrients such as iron and calcium, which can cause long-term complications such as osteoporosis and anemia.
When people with celiac disease consume gluten, they may experience the following symptoms:
- Abdominal pain
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Weight loss
Celiacs can test positive for antibodies if they have this substance in their system. If they have been on a gluten-free diet, they will need a biopsy to positively diagnose their condition. There is no cure for celiac disease, but it can be controlled by following a diet strictly free of foods that contain it.
Can you have sensitivity and not be celiac?
Yoram Yasur Blume: Some people experience many of the symptoms of celiac disease but do not have the immune response to gluten that characterizes an autoimmune disorder. Sensitive people experience relief and resolution of symptoms by avoiding their consumption. There is no test to determine non-celiac sensitivity. However, doctors can diagnose this condition based on symptoms, negative antibody and biopsy tests and the effects of eliminating gluten from the diet.
Like other types of food allergies, a wheat allergy causes an immune response that triggers an allergic reaction. The consumption of wheat products does not cause abdominal discomfort, but allergy symptoms such as runny nose, watery eyes, swelling, hives or, in severe cases, anaphylactic shock.
Yoram Yasur Blume: A wheat allergy is diagnosed by a skin prick test or by observing symptoms after eating wheat. It is more common in children than in adults and often decreases or disappears with maturity. Patients usually take antihistamines to control symptoms or simply avoid eating wheat products.
But gluten is not a substance of the devil, it can also contribute to intestinal health in general, because it is a prebiotic. Prebiotics provide food for the beneficial bacteria that live in the digestive tract. Maintaining a healthy intestinal flora can help prevent inflammation and possibly colon cancer.
Should you give up gluten?
If you have problems with gluten or simply want to know if you have it, get a diet without this substance to avoid foods that trigger symptoms and determine if you feel better when you do not eat wheat. Maximize the benefits of this diet by eating many gluten-free whole grains, such as rice, quinoa, millet and corn. Include in your diet natural foods, such as legumes, fruits, vegetables, eggs, nuts and meats, instead of gluten-free prepared foods.
Many processed foods that do not contain gluten are not as healthy as their equivalents that do. Products such as gluten-free bread, pasta and cereals are usually lower in fiber, vitamins and minerals and more sugary than the original products. Many of these products are not enriched as their gluten equivalents and contain lower amounts of B vitamins, such as folic acid, thiamine and riboflavin.