Is Gluten Bad For You?
Many healthy food trends have come and gone. Now more than ever, people are becoming more conscious of what they eat and how that food makes them feel. Hence the increased awareness around gluten and gluten-free diets today.
Notwithstanding its popularity, this new healthy-eating trend begs the question – does gluten benefit or harm your body?
Turns out there is a no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. Gluten affects everyone differently. We are going to discuss some of the common conditions and problems caused by gluten. By the end of this article, you should be able to decide if gluten is harming or benefiting your body and whether to go gluten-free or not.
Is Gluten the Enemy?
People with certain health conditions that are made worse by consuming gluten have good reason to avoid this popular protein found in grains. However, that doesn’t make it problematic for everyone. As a matter of fact, gluten offers many benefits to people without gluten-related conditions. But for some it can cause serious side effects and it is a no-brainer that gluten is not your friend.
Common Gluten-Related Conditions
Gluten becomes a problem when you experience adverse reactions to it. For people with gluten-related conditions, your body categorizes gluten as a toxin. Consequently, your immune system tries to expel it as soon as possible, hence the discomfort and health problems you experience when you eat it.
Further, people with gluten intolerance tend to suffer from a host of other health conditions such as nerve damage, osteoporosis, infertility, and some cancers.
There are two forms of gluten intolerance, celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity.
- Celiac disease: Celiac disease is the most severe form of gluten intolerance. A small amount of gluten can trigger your immune system into a state of defense which eventually destroys the lining of the gut in the process.
- Non-celiac gluten sensitivity: Diagnosing celiac disease is a bit tricky. Most times it is misdiagnosed or underdiagnosed. But even people with no trace of celiac disease tend to show some levels of intolerance to gluten. This form of gluten intolerance is called non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Studies show up to 13% of people currently fall under this category.
10 Signs and Symptoms of Gluten Intolerance
- Bloating: Bloating is one of the most common symptoms of gluten intolerance. It involves the belly feeling swollen after eating.
- Diarrhea or Constipation: Gluten-intolerant people often experience diarrhea or constipation. Celiac disease patients often experience pale or foul-smelling feces.
- Abdominal Pain: Abdominal pain is the most common symptom of gluten intolerance and is experienced by 83% of gluten-intolerant individuals.
- Headaches: Gluten-intolerant people seem to be more prone to migraines than healthy people.
- Feeling Tired: Feeling extremely tired is another symptom of gluten-intolerance, affecting 60-82% of gluten-intolerant individuals.
- Skin Problems: The skin manifestation of celiac disease is called dermatitis herpetiformis.
- Depression: Depression is more common among people with gluten intolerance.
- Unexplained Weight Loss: Losing weight unexpectedly, especially if experiencing other digestive problems, may be a sign of celiac disease.
- Iron-Deficiency Anemia: Celiac disease may cause poor absorption of iron from your diet.
- Brain Fog: Gluten-intolerant individuals may experience brain fog. It involves having difficulty thinking, mental fatigue, and forgetfulness.
Steer Clear: Foods High in Gluten
For people with gluten-related conditions, you should keep an eye out for foods that are high in gluten. A gluten-free diet should be your target. While this is somewhat difficult for some people, it is essential to keep you strong and healthy.
Here are some gluten-containing foods to steer clear of;
- Modified Food Starch
Be sure to always read labels!
Is gluten bad for you? The verdict!
No doubt most people can consume gluten without experiencing any adverse effects. However, if you experience any of the symptoms listed above, you may be reacting negatively to gluten in your diet.
In this case, you should consult with your doctor or try removing gluten from your diet to see if it relieves your symptoms.
If you believe you may have a problem with gluten, there are a lot of resources for help and information on the Internet. A few good sites are: https://gluten.org/resources/, https://www.beyondceliac.org, and https://medlineplus.gov/glutensensitivity.html