With so much research being done on nutrition in the last couple hundred years, it has become essential to know about nutrition and the various foods that affect the way we live our lives. Gluten is one of the many things that we have to know about.
Here is everything you need to know about gluten, what gluten intolerance is, and its signs, and some healthy gluten-free foods that you need to know about:
What is gluten?
Unlike what some people believe, gluten is not taken from the word “glute” which is a large muscle of the buttocks. Gluten is a direct translation from its Latin word, which means “to stick”. Gluten is a group of proteins that are found in cereal grains like wheat, rye, barley, and triticale.
Gluten is also known as prolamins. Because they are found in cereal grains, gluten is very common in many dishes like pasta, noodles, bread & pastries, baked goods, and any other food that contains cereal grains.
Here are some little facts about gluten that you should know:
A major source of protein
Gluten makes up for more than 70% of all protein that is present in cereal grain. However, even though gluten contains a lot of protein, the two main proteins of this compound are responsible for many health effects. These two proteins are glutenin and gliadin.
Is present in many other dishes too
Gluten is not only present in cereal grains, but is also indirectly present or at least occurs in other dishes like soups, sauces, and salad dressings. Even dishes that do not have wheat or cereal grains can sometimes have gluten during processing.
Almost everyone consumes gluten
Gluten is universally present in almost everyone’s diet. A survey in 2013 found that in the U.S. alone, more than 70% directly or indirectly eat gluten without any restrictions.
Gluten does not directly lead to weight gain
Unlike popular opinion, glutes are not responsible for direct weight gain. Studies show that people who chose to leave gluten to lose weight only lost it because their diet was extremely limited and they could only eat a set of foods. This is because a vast majority of foods contain gluten.
What is Gluten Intolerance?
As the name suggests, gluten intolerance is a status that people contract when they are unable to deal with the gluten in their bodies. Just like an allergy, people who have gluten intolerance will find it very dangerous to eat gluten and gluten-related foods.
According to a recent survey, about 20 million people in all of the U.S. suffer from gluten intolerance. This means that one in almost every 11 people cannot process gluten.
Reasons why people suffer from gluten intolerance:
Gluten intolerance can result from a wide variety of issues. Some of these issues include:
Celiac disease is a disease with one’s immune system where the body cannot digest gluten. Because the body cannot digest gluten due to this disease, the intake of gluten can cause permanent damage to the small intestine.
A rough estimate shows that more than 1% of the global population may be suffering from celiac disease. Celiac disease is a hereditary disease and runs in the family. Over time, people with celiac disease can develop coronary artery diseases, small bowel cancers, type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, dermatitis herpetiformis, anemia, osteoporosis, and so on.
Wheat allergy is a big issue and is known as atopic dermatitis. Just like how people are allergic to trees and pollen, some people are allergic to wheat.
People suffering from wheat allergy produce antibodies to fight against the protein that is present in wheat. In this way, wheat allergy can cause abnormal immune system reactions.
Non-celiac wheat sensitivity
Non-celiac wheat sensitivity or NCWS is a type of condition that can be observed by intestinal issues and bloating, diarrhea, nausea, brain fog, numbness, and so on. Non-celiac wheat sensitivity can lead to many other issues as well.
In a nutshell, non-celiac wheat sensitivity is an issue just like celiac disease.
Signs of gluten intolerance:
There are many signs of gluten intolerance that you can observe to check if you are suffering from this issue. Here is a list of the most vital signs that you should not ignore:
Diarrhea or abdominal pain
If you feel like your stomach is grumbling every time you eat bread or foods that contain some level of gluten, you might be suffering from gluten intolerance. Chances are that you might not have had gluten intolerance in the past, but have developed such an issue recently.
People who suffer from celiac disease also experience inflammation in the small intestine after consuming gluten.
If you feel like your head is exploding a few hours after eating bread or roti, the chances of you being allergic to gluten are very high. This is the brain’s way of telling you that the food you are consuming is not healthy for your body.
Skin issues can result from gluten intolerance. A popular skin issue that can arise from gluten intolerance is dermatitis herpetiformis.
Rapid weight loss
If you have lost a lot of weight all at once without changing your diet for once, don’t just start rejoicing. Rapid and unexpected weight loss is one of the biggest symptoms of gluten intolerance as the body is unable to process the minerals from bread and other cereal grains.
Anxiety and rapid heartbeat
People who suffer from rapid heartbeat after eating bread should consider visiting the doctor as soon as possible. Anxiety and rapid heartbeat are some of the signs of gluten intolerance and may be a cause for something even deadlier.
Anemia makes one feel tired and weak throughout the day. There are many forms of anemia. Nonetheless, if you feel tired all day, maybe it is time to change your diet. Gluten intolerance can not only lead to anemia but also muscle weakness and fatigue.
10 Healthy Gluten-free foods:
1. Cheese and butter
Cheese and butter are readily available and contain a large amount of protein. For people who are suffering from gluten intolerance, they are a great way to get protein without having to rely on animal meat. Cheese and butter are extremely popular all across the globe.
Rice is one of the staple foods that everyone should add in their diets. Because rice can be used in a wide variety of dishes, they are a great alternative to gluten.
Potatoes are great because they are easy to grow and available for cheap. They can be mashed up, fried, cooked, roasted, anything you can dream of. Potato fries are loved all across the globe, and they are high in nutrition.
4. Fruits and vegetables
Many fruits and vegetables can become complete meals for people who know how to sort them. Both vegetables and fruits provide an innumerable number of benefits and are extremely tasty. Do not go for processed fruits and vegetables because they contain some level of gluten and other additives.
Legumes are a list of beans, lentils, peas, and peanuts that have high protein. They also have a generally low level of fat and provide a lot of nutrients. Legumes are a great gluten-free food.
Raw meat that comes from animals that are not breaded is rich in protein and offers a lot of advantages. Breaded meat can contain gluten, so go for non-breaded meat. Meat also makes for a variety of tasty dishes and fast-foods like burgers, pizzas, elbow macaroni, pasta, and so on.
7. Gluten-free wine, hard cider
Drinks like wine that are tagged as gluten-free are a healthy beverage that can be enjoyed as long as you are above 18 and it is legal in your state. Gluten-free hard cider is also a popular beverage.
8. Chia seeds
Chia seeds are a great and productive source of protein that can be enjoyed a snack but can also be cooked. They are high in fiber, antioxidants, and omega-3 fatty acids. Chia seeds contain no gluten and can be enjoyed as an alternative.
9. Jam (preserve) and syrup
Jam and syrup contain no gluten, although bread and anything made from cereal grain do. You can still enjoy a cup or two of raw syrup and jam if you are craving for these sweet foods that make up for the best sandwiches.
10. Eggs and cream
Eggs from chicken, turkey, and other animals contain a high level of protein and are an easy snack for many. Cooking an egg is also a good breakfast. Many types of creams are used in various foods. Both eggs and cream do not contain any gluten and can be enjoyed with ease.