Gluten: understand what it is and what are the main health risks it offers

O gluten has been an increasingly central theme when it comes to diet. Villainized by some, and defended by others, this substance has always been present in human food and is a type of protein very common in cereals, such as wheat, rye, malt or barley.

There is no evidence that its consumption causes problems with health for most of us. However, some medical conditions prevent its consumption. celiac and people with allergies to this nutrient may feel some discomfort when they consume it, and so they should avoid it.

What is gluten?

Gluten helps dough rise during fermentation (Source: Shutterstock)Gluten helps dough rise during fermentation (Source: Shutterstock)Fonte:  Shutterstock

Many people can associate gluten to one carbohydratebut actually he is a kind of protein formed from the meeting of gliadin and glutenin. They usually accompany cereal starch — which is a carbohydrate — which leads to confusion.

In contact with water, these compounds react to form this substance, which has peculiar physical characteristics that are fundamental in many culinary preparations. The nutrient was a key part of the creation of many typical foods.

It is important, for example, in the production of bread. During the kneading, the gluten is activated, releasing carbon dioxide produced in the fermentation. This causes the dough to develop and the bread to rise. It also provides enough elasticity for many doughs to be stretched out without breaking.

Protein is also present in drinks like whiskey and beer (Source: Shutterstock)Protein is also present in drinks like whiskey and beer (Source: Shutterstock)Fonte:  Shutterstock

It also generates a soft, easy-to-chew texture in cakes, pizza, and pasta. This plant-based protein was important in human history and can be consumed without problems by almost everyone.

Celiac disease

A particular condition that prevents the consumption of the nutrient is the celiac disease. This autoimmune condition is characterized by hypersensitivity to this protein derivative. Its consumption leads to inflammation of the intestinal mucosa.

The causes are genetic and the condition is worsened in stressful situations. Treatment involves diet adjustment and complete withdrawal of food with the substance in the diet. Today, there are many alternatives to bread and pasta without the substance. not market.

There are two other cases that prevent its consumption: sensitivity and allergy to the substance. These conditions are often confused with celiac disease, but they are not the same problem.

Gluten sensitivity, while also causing intestinal inflammation, differs from celiac disease in that it has no extraintestinal symptoms. It causes conditions such as discomfort, gas and cramping and interferes with nutrient absorption, which can lead to anemia.

Allergy, on the other hand, is an immune response triggered by the body when there is contact with gluten. It includes the classic symptoms such as itching and swelling of the glottis, but it also generates gas, colic and diarrhea.

Foods with and without gluten.

All foods derived from wheat, barley, malt or rye contain this protein. This group includes crackers, cakes, cookies, breads, toast, beers, pasta, pasta, or whiskey. A balanced diet usually contains one or more of these foods, and therefore often includes the by-product.

Fruits, vegetables, legumes (beans, chickpeas, lentils), rice, quinoa, corn, potatoes, cassava, meats, sweets, spices, oils, oils and margarines are free of the substance. In the food industry, a product labeled “gluten-free” can be consumed by celiacs.

Many foods are free of the proteins gliadin and glutenin (Source: Shutterstock)Many foods are free of the proteins gliadin and glutenin (Source: Shutterstock)Fonte:  Shutterstock

During the production of these foods, the wheat or other cereal is washed several times. When it comes into contact with water, part of the gluten proteins dissolves and is discarded. In this way it is possible to manufacture even cakes and breads free of the substance.

gluten free diet

Much has been said about the practice of gluten-restricted diets as a strategy for weight loss and health improvement. The truth is that there is no relationship between this protein and the emergence of diseases or fat gain.

Therefore, there are no benefits to a diet concerned only with nutrient elimination. On the contrary, eliminate it entirely of unnecessary meals can promote the imbalance of the intestinal flora and impair the absorption of nutrients.

The fat loss that often accompanies this type of diet is the result of reduced consumption of carbohydrates, which are usually present in cereal products such as wheat.

In this sense, adopting a balanced diet and choosing better foods, favoring natural products over processed food, can bring much greater and longer lasting benefits than simply cutting out gluten. everyday.

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