The gluten free diet is a diet that eliminates most cereals. It is recommended for people who have celiac disease or who have gluten intolerance. For other people, a gluten free diet can be bad for your health.
The benefits and risks of a gluten free diet need to be carefully weighed, especially if the person starting this new diet does not really need to restrict their gluten intake.
What is gluten?
Gluten is a protein found in some grains, such as wheat, rye and barley. Gluten gives products (such as bread for example) a soft texture and it gives them an elastic quality.
It is therefore important for the manufacture of baked goods.
This protein is the only one present in food that is not fully digested. It is indigestible because of its odd composition of amino acids proline and glutamine . The assemblyof these amino acids is unrecognizable by our enzymes and that’s why we (all people, not just those of us who are intolerant to gluten) na same unable to digest properly.
In the case of people allergic to gluten , its molecules indestructible by our digestive system can irritate the intestinal wall and cause inflammation in the intestines.
For healthy people , the inside of the small intestine is lined with small folds in the form of small sticks called villi that help the body absorb nutrients .
In people with celiac disease, gluten irritates the lining of the small intestine and also causes an attack of the immune system against these villi. Over time, the villi can be damaged or destroyed. The consequence is that the body can no longer absorb enough nutrients from food .
Nutrients circulate in the digestive tract and are excreted with body waste. The person can then suffer from malnutrition.
Benefits of the gluten free diet
In addition to people with celiac disease, there are other medical conditions that the gluten free diet is beneficial for.
Gluten intolerance varies from gluten sensitivity (non-celiac gluten intolerance) to celiac disease .
Non-celiac gluten intolerance could be an allergy to gluten or other ingredients in foods other than gluten, or it could even be a placebo effect, which some studies have actually shown. Eating gluten free can also help those who have a chronic gastrointestinal disorder called irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
A diet low in FODMAP ( F ermentescibles, O ligosaccharides, D isaccharides, Monosaccharides, P olyols) is often helpful for people with IBS. “Gluten free” is one of the many things to avoid for this diet.
For simplicity, FODMAPs are short chain carbohydrates or starches / sugars naturally present in certain foods or added to foods.
Cereals rich in gluten (wheat, rye and barley) are foods rich in FODMAP. They contain oligosaccharides that can be easily fermented by intestinal bacteria.
This can cause bloating, cramps and / or diarrhea.
A gluten free diet is therefore essential for people with celiac disease or who have sensitivity to non-celiac gluten . Food is the best treatment for these people.
Risks of the gluten free diet
Many people on a gluten free diet do not have a real medical dietary restrictionand eat gluten free because it’s a fad diet like the paleo diet right now.
The biggest risk with a gluten free diet is to no longer have a healthy and balanced diet. There are many gluten free products on store shelves that are just as unhealthy as their wheat counterparts.
Even for bread or products like waffles, pancakes, crackers or pretzels made from white rice flour, tapioca flour and / or potato starch.
Gluten free foods, especially foods refined and processed to be gluten free (many are made with potato starch or rice starch) mislead consumers about the many health benefits of whole grains … and can be extremely poor in essential nutrients such as fiber, iron , zinc , calcium and phosphorus.
The majority of health professionals do not believe there is a benefit of eating gluten free if you do not have this food intolerance.
For the case of people who only eat foods that are intrinsically gluten free, such as fruits, vegetables, gluten free whole grains, lean proteins, healthy fats, the gluten free diet can be a healthy diet.
But if gluten-containing products are replaced by gluten free highly processed foods such as baked goods, energy bars, etc., you will not lose weight and you can even win because many gluten free foods contain more calories than their versions. gluten free.
List of gluten free foods
Some grains are naturally gluten free, such as brown rice, buckwheat, quinoa , wild rice, amaranth, sorghum, millet, maize (polenta) and teff. Oats and more particularly oatmeal is naturally gluten free, but is often contaminated with wheat in the fields or at the factory.
People on a gluten free diet should therefore be careful to buy oats with gluten free certification.
Other gluten free foods :
- Beans, nuts in their natural unprocessed form
- Fresh eggs
- Fresh meat, poultry and fish (not marinated or breaded)
- Fruits and vegetables
- Most dairy products
Foods containing gluten
These foods should be avoided unless they are labeled as gluten free or made with cereals or gluten free flour, such as corn, rice or soy:
Tips for gluten intolerants
Watch for cross contamination. Cross contamination can occur during production. You should always read labels and pay attention to warnings like “may contain” or “traces of”.
Also be careful before eating at the restaurant. Ask if there are gluten free dishes on the menu, and try to find out about the preparation of dishes to avoid cross-contamination.
Celiac disease: symptoms
The classic symptoms of celiac disease or gluten intolerance are diarrhea and weight loss. However, many people may not feel any digestive symptoms. There are also symptoms that can appear later if someone is not treated, for example, nutrient deficiencies. Some people have anemia and vitamin deficiencies due to malabsorption. They do not absorb all the nutrients because of the damage in the small intestine. Here is a non-exhaustive list of the most common symptoms of celiac disease:
- Gas and bloating
- Iron deficiency or anemia
- Growth retardation in children
- Headache or migraines
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Loss of bone density
- Mood swings and fatigue
- Articular pain
- Acid reflux and heartburn
The causes of celiac disease are not fully understood. It seems that most people with this disease have a genetic predisposition.
Studies show that men and women of all ages and ethnicities can be affected by celiac disease, but it is more common among people of North European origin.
People who have a family member with celiac disease are more likely to have the disease. There are two main genes related to celiac disease. 95% of people with celiac disease have the gene HLA-DQ2, and 5% the gene HLA-DQ8.
When a person with celiac disease consumes gluten, the immune system overreacts and targets the small intestine of the body. The villi (hair-like structures in the small intestine) suffer, shorten and flatten. This occurs in the regions of the lamina propria of the intestine.
What I think about the gluten free diet
There are two scenarios to consider.
It is very simple.
If you have gluten intolerance or diagnosed celiac disease, then a gluten free diet is vital.
I advise you if you do not already know this site complete with gluten free recipes .
For other people, I will not recommend deleting gluten because there is currently no scientific proof that gluten suppression offers any benefit.
Do not be fooled by aggressive marketing campaigns or evidence such as celebrity or athlete who managed to lose weight or improve athletic performance .
I have sometimes read some pretty funny stories on this subject.
Some people with no medical indication against gluten praise this diet because it will reduce constipation, depressed mood and slow digestion.
If you have this kind of problems, no need to remove gluten, I have another solution: move your ass, play sports, a few sets of squats with some movements for the abs and your constipation problems will disappear!