Why is gluten bad for your health?

Gluten-free has been all the rage these past few years. However, most people who avoid gluten, have no idea what it really is and how avoiding it is benefiting them.

Gluten is a protein found in most grains, such as wheat, barley and rye. It’s the substance that gives dough that elastic texture when you knead it. But what is it that makes gluten so bad for our health? Keep reading to find out why is gluten bad for your health?

1. Gluten causes an undiagnosed condition in most people

Why is gluten bad for your health?When gluten reaches your digestive tract and interacts with your immune system cells, the body mistakes it for a foreign attacker– like bacteria.

Some people are sensitive to gluten. This prompts an immune system response, to eliminate it. Unfortunately, in the case of the most severe form of gluten sensitivity, called celiac disease, the immune system attacks the the gluten, as well the enzymes in the cells of the gut. Therefore, both the gluten and your digestive tract wall are being attacked. This is why celiac disease is categorized as an autoimmune disorder.

The immune system reaction causes your intestinal wall to degenerate. Most of the nutrient absorption in your body takes place in the small intestine. Therefore, a reaction to gluten can lead to nutrient deficiencies, anemia, fatigue, digestive issues and an increased risk of severe diseases.

According to research, around 1% of the population is believed to have celiac disease, but it may be more common among the elderly [1], [2].

However, many people with celiac disease do not show any abdominal systems, which can make diagnosis difficult.

One study shows that over 80% of celiac sufferers don’t even realize they have it [3].

2. Gluten sensitivity is even more common than celiac disease

Even if you don’t have celiac disease, chances are you can still have negative reactions to gluten from gluten sensitivity, also called gluten intolerance.

Gluten sensitivity is much more common than celiac disease and it simply means your body is having some sort of negative reaction to gluten. Fortunately, you may experience an improvement in symptoms by following a gluten-free lifestyle.

Why is gluten bad for your health?If you don’t have celiac disease but experience symptoms similar to it, such as stomach pain, bloating, diarrhea, fatigue and pain in joints and bones, chances are you have non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

Although gluten sensitivity is difficult to diagnose, some sources show that up around 6 to 8% of people may have it [4]. In addition, about 40% of people have certain genes that make them vulnerable to gluten sensitivity [5].

There is no clear definition for gluten intolerance, therefore, if you are experiencing symptoms, try eliminating gluten completely from your diet and see if you notice any improvement.

3. You don’t have to have gluten sensitivity to experience gluten’s adverse effects

According to one study, people with irritable bowel syndrome showed improvement in symptoms after going on a gluten-free diet, indicating that gluten-sensitivity and IBS may be closely tied [6].

About 14% of the US population suffers from IBS. Studies show that IBS may be worsened by the consumption of gluten [7]. Therefore, if you suffer from IBS, try going gluten free for a month and note down any improvements.

4. Brain disorders may be linked to gluten

Although gluten mainly affects the gut, it can also cause adverse effects to the brain.

In several cases, neurological diseases can be worsened by a gluten-rich diet, a condition called gluten-sensitive idiopathic neuropathy.

In one study of people with neurological disease of unknown causes, about 57% of them had antibodies against gluten proteins in their blood [8].

Research shows that brain disorders that may benefit from a gluten-free diet include autism, epilepsy and schizophrenia.

5. Wheat gluten is addictive

Wheat is highly addictive, which explains the unnatural cravings people have towards cakes, donuts and pizza. This isn’t proven yet, but some studies show that gluten may contribute to its addictiveness [9].

Louise and Richard Thomas  founders of Fresh Start

Louise and Richard Thomas founders of Fresh Start

Here at Thailand Fitness Bootcamp, your health and happiness are of utmost importance to us. Therefore, every year, we are on a quest to developing the most effective and exciting diet and fitness plans for you, making your dreams a reality.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References

1. The prevalence of celiac disease in the United States. Am J Gastroenterol. 2012 Oct;107(10):1538-44; quiz 1537, 1545. doi: 10.1038/ajg.2012.219. Epub 2012 Jul 31.
2. Prevalence of celiac disease in at-risk and not-at-risk groups in the United States: a large multicenter study. Arch Intern Med. 2003 Feb 10;163(3):286-92.
3. The Prevalence of Celiac Disease in the United States. Am J Gastroenterol 2012; 107:1538–1544; doi:10.1038/ajg.2012.219; published online 31 July 2012
4. Non-celiac gluten sensitivity: questions still to be answered despite increasing awareness. Cell Mol Immunol. 2013 Sep;10(5):383-92. doi: 10.1038/cmi.2013.28. Epub 2013 Aug 10.
5. Celiac Disease and Malabsorptive Disorders. Jamilé Wakim-Fleming
6. Gluten causes gastrointestinal symptoms in subjects without celiac disease: a double-blind randomized placebo-controlled trial. Am J Gastroenterol. 2011 Mar;106(3):508-14; quiz 515. doi: 10.1038/ajg.2010.487. Epub 2011 Jan 11.
7. Irritable bowel syndrome in the United States: prevalence, symptom patterns and impact. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2005 Jun 1;21(11):1365-75.
8. Does cryptic gluten sensitivity play a part in neurological illness? Lancet. 1996 Feb 10;347(8998):369-71.
9. Opioid peptides derived from wheat gluten: Their isolation and characterization. doi:10.1016/0014-5793(92)80414-C

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