There has been an increasing movement to try to eat “gluten free.” This is good in that in order to eat this way you have to really think about what you eat and hopefully you will naturally avoid processed food, but bad in that simply to eradicate gluten doesn’t make you lose weight or get more healthy. Gluten free foods may also be lacking in essential nutrients making this sort of diet, if unnecessary, detrimental to health.
Glutenin and gliadin are 2 of the many proteins found in grains which when rubbed together (like when kneading dough) and exposed to moisture, tangle themselves and form gluten, which is what gives dough its elasticity. If it was extracted and stood alone, gluten would look like a piece of chewing gum.
There are 3 main reasons why you would legitimately want to avoid gluten.
- Wheat allergy, which usually occurs in children and disappears by age 5
- Coeliac disease which is diagnosed clearly, first by blood tests which show an immune reaction to gluten, followed by an intestinal biopsy which shows damage to the villi of the intestine. The villi are thread-like structures which line the intestine making its surface area greater for the absorption of our food. If they have been damaged the food is not being properly absorbed so the person suffering may lose weight and have terrible tummy pains.
- Gluten intolerance is when people seem to have an adverse reaction to consuming food with gluten, and may have a blood test result which shows an immune response but there is no damage to the intestinal villi upon biopsy.
In all 3 cases, a gluten free diet usually sorts out the problem.
In many cases especially when the diagnoses of Coeliac disease is recent, there may be other foods which the sufferer cannot tolerate. A typical one is milk and dairy products. This is probably because the intestine is still damaged and may be a bit permeable resulting in “leaky gut”
People have reactions to all sorts of allergens which may present as gluten intolerance/coeliac disease. Sometimes, especially with processed food, gluten containing products are included to render the finished product easier to cook or eat. e.g. some rolled oats have flour thrown in to keep them nice and separate. So although there is no gluten in oats, the processing causes a problem.
This is obviously a brief synopsis of a complicated range of conditions and the picture is far bigger than this. Also, I am not a doctor. What I say here is as a result of knowing a few people with these conditions, spending a lot of time in the food sphere and a great deal of research.
Sun Temple recipes try to see the bigger picture and apply the unprocessed rule across the board.
Sarah at LockHartMartin suffers with Coeliac disease and has a healthy living website. Please see her blog on Coeliac disease which is hugely informative. http://www.lockhartmartin.com/blog/are-you-a-newly-diagnosed-coeliac-and-find-that-cutting-out-gluten-wheat-isn-t-enough/