What is Gluten?
Gluten refers to the proteins found in wheat, barley, and rye that act as a binding agent. This substance is also found in many other food items, including soy sauce and toothpaste.
Is Gluten Free Healthier?
This is where the discussion and debate start to get heated.
Many people believe that a diet without gluten is not necessarily healthier than one that contains gluten. They also agree that for people who have gluten intolerance, it is important to follow a strict gluten-free diet, as even a small amount of gluten can make them very sick.
Gluten intolerance can cause anything from mild gas and bloating to full-blown Celiac Disease. However, there are other factors to consider, such as the source of our wheat. In the USA, the wheat is genetically modified and tainted with glyphosate, also known as the weed killer RoundUp. Many people without gluten sensitivity or intolerance will experience health benefits from removing gluten from their diet because many of the food items consumed with gluten are processed, genetically modified, and laced with chemicals like insecticides, leading to difficulty with digestion and inflammation.
Celiac disease is an autoimmune genetic disorder that requires a person to never eat gluten for their entire life. If somebody with celiac disease eats gluten, their immune system will attack their small intestine. After a while, these attacks will damage the microvilli, which are small finger-like projections that line the small intestine and help with the absorption of nutrients. By not eating gluten, the digestive tract can heal, the inflammation will go down, and the symptoms will go away.
If celiac disease is not treated, it can cause various health problems, such as nutrient deficiencies, chronic fatigue, osteoporosis, infertility, and intestinal cancers. Additionally, the condition can lead to other autoimmune disorders, like multiple sclerosis and type I diabetes. Celiac disease is thought to affect approximately 1% of people in the United States.
Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity
6% of the population has Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity (NCGS). This is when someone is intolerant to gluten and has similar symptoms to celiac disease, but there is no specific immune response or intestinal damage.
While celiac disease and gluten sensitivity share similar gastrointestinal symptoms, including abdominal pain, bloating, gas, and diarrhea, people with gluten sensitivity tend to experience non-gastrointestinal symptoms, such as skin rashes, headaches, joint and muscle pain, chronic tiredness, and limb numbness.
The time it takes for symptoms of gluten consumption to appear varies from person to person. For example, some people report feeling extremely tired the morning after eating gluten, while others experience bloating and diarrhea two to four days afterward. If symptoms appear shortly after consumption, within a few minutes to hours, a wheat allergy is likely the cause.
A wheat allergy is not the same as celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. It is an allergic reaction where the body’s immune system overreacts to wheat and produces specific antibodies. Wheat allergies are more common among children and typically present with hives or skin rashes, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headaches, or a stuffy nose. In severe cases, a wheat allergy can lead to anaphylaxis, a potentially life-threatening reaction.
A gluten-free diet is essential for individuals with celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity, but is gluten-free healthier for individuals with a wheat allergy? No, as these individuals are not allergic to gluten. They’re just allergic to wheat, which contains gluten proteins.
Increasing Prevalence of Celiac Disease and Gluten Sensitivity
The percentage of Americans with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity has increased a lot in the last thirty years and is now thought to affect eighteen million people. Meanwhile, the number of people choosing to eat a gluten-free diet has gone up quickly, with more than fifteen and a half billion dollars being spent on gluten-free foods in 2016, which is double the amount that was spent five years before.
The rising number of gluten-related disorders cannot be explained only by genetics. One reason for the increase could be greater awareness, with celebrities and professional athletes talking about the benefits of gluten-free diets and more people reporting health improvements after removing gluten from their diets. However, experts are not sure if this is the only reason for the trend.
Why is Gluten-Free Healthier?
There is no denying that wheat has changed significantly over the last few decades.
Since the early days of agriculture, people have been finding ways to produce and process wheat more economically. This has led to several changes in the way wheat is harvested, tended, and milled. These changes may help explain the recent growth of gluten sensitivity and the improvement in health that people are experiencing when they remove gluten from their diet.
Gluten-Free Diets and Athletic Performance
My clients are often confused why they can eat a bowl of pasta while competing overseas without experiencing any symptoms, but when they eat similar foods in the United States they experience debilitating symptoms. One reason for this is that glyphosate has been banned in several European countries, including Belgium, France, and the Netherlands, as well as Colombia, Sri Lanka, Bermuda, and several Middle Eastern countries.
Despite this, the U.S. government has done little to study the potential health effects of glyphosate exposure, instead deferring to the chemical and agrichemical industry, which has consistently shown that the chemical is safe for human use. Strict limits on the use of glyphosate have been set by the European Union, leading to less use of the chemical weed killer by farmers. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has set far laxer allowable levels, resulting in significantly higher rates of spraying on American soil and increased levels of human exposure. The U.S. government has done little to study the potential health effects of glyphosate exposure, instead deferring to the chemical and agrichemical industry, which has consistently shown that the chemical is safe for human use.
The reason you may be able to tolerate wheat while traveling overseas is because the wheat is prepared and baked using traditional methods.
The Gluten-Free Craze Is Out Of Hand. Here Are 5 Facts To Counter The Madness.
Gluten is found in many foods, but there is an increasing number of gluten-free options.
Gluten is a combination of two different proteins, glutenin, and gliadin, which are found in foods that are made from wheat and other grains like barley and rye. To avoid eating gluten, you need to stay away from all wheat-based foods and ingredients, which include white and whole-wheat flour, Kamut, spelt, semolina, and wheat bran and germ.
This means that you cannot have any bread, pasta, cookies, cakes, muffins, pastries, cereals, crackers, gravies, or beer. It also means that you cannot have soy sauce, bouillon cubes, candies, food starch, fried foods, or even oats if they are processed in the same facility as wheat.
The increasing popularity of gluten-free products has resulted in more alternatives to traditional items. A search on Amazon.com yields a variety of gluten-free items, ranging from pancake mix and granola bars to almond meals and lollipops. This selection is growing even more quickly than vegetarian options. According to the Economist, sales of meat alternatives have been declining in America since 2008, but “consumer demand for products without gluten is rising rapidly.”
A very small number of people have celiac disease or wheat allergies and cannot eat gluten.
There are serious disorders that people have to cope with that are definitely related to gluten. Celiac disease is a diagnosable autoimmune condition that causes people’s immune systems to attack their small intestines whenever they eat gluten. About 1 percent of Americans have celiac disease, and, according to the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, many of them go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed for years — suffering through pain from eating unnecessarily.
Even rare than celiac disease are genuine wheat allergies, which are estimated to affect 0.1 percent of people in Westernized countries. Gluten-free products can certainly be used by those with this allergy, but, as a review article on gluten-free diets pointed out, a wheat-free diet may be more permissive than a strict gluten-free diet since wheat allergy can be treated with wheat avoidance.
There is some evidence that people with certain medical conditions may improve their symptoms by eating a gluten-free diet. However, we don’t have enough scientific evidence to support a gluten-free diet for the general population.
The science behind “gluten sensitivity” or “gluten intolerance” is unclear for most people.
Many people are choosing to remove gluten from their diets for various reasons, such as bloating, obesity, brain fog, Alzheimer’s, and autism. However, it is not clear if this is actually helpful.
These individuals consider themselves to have a sensitivity or intolerance to gluten even though there is no celiac disease present. There are no set diagnostic criteria for this condition and no tests to determine if someone has it. The only way to know for sure is to put the person on a gluten-free diet and see if their symptoms improve.
This creates a problem because it is difficult to determine if someone truly has gluten sensitivity. Many people who think they are gluten sensitive may not be, according to a study done in the journal Gastroenterology. Some people question whether gluten sensitivity is a real thing, or if there is something else going on.
People who claim that their symptoms improve on a gluten-free diet may actually be reacting to another set of carbohydrates found in wheat called FODMAPs. In other words, it is not the gluten that is bothering people, but other sugars found in wheat.
A lot more research needs to be done in this area. Many of the studies conducted involving people with gluten sensitivity or FODMAPs diets are small, and there is still a lot of uncertainty in the science.
Dr. Umberto Volta, a researcher from the University of Bologna in Italy, stated that many people report digestive symptoms after consuming foods with gluten. He explained that some people feel better after avoiding gluten, but this may be due to the placebo effect. In reality, other factors such as lactose intolerance or FODMAPs are usually the cause of the discomfort. Even so, gluten often gets the blame.
Most people who think they are allergic to gluten are not actually allergic.
Although non-celiac gluten sensitivity remains relatively unknown, there is a possibility that some people’s stomach problems are caused by gluten or another element in grains. However, research suggests that only a small percentage of the population would be affected by this sensitivity. This is in contrast to the 33 percent of Americans who say they want to avoid gluten.
“The state of science right now, as best we know is this: the vast majority of people who think they react to gluten don’t,” Alan Jay Levinovitz, author of the new book The Gluten Lie, told me in an interview. “There may be a small segment of the population sensitive to gluten and who don’t have celiac disease, and only time will tell if that really is something.”
The decision to avoid gluten is not based on current science, and there is no evidence that gluten is causing health problems for a lot of people.
or feel better. There is no evidence to suggest that going gluten-free will help you lose weight or feel better.
The top dieting trend of 2014, according to a survey of dietitians, was avoiding wheat due to a belief that it would help people lose weight. However, science suggests that gluten-free diets may actually cause weight gain.
In Caulfield’s new book, he argues that there is no scientific evidence to support the claim that gluten and wheat are the cause of obesity, and eliminating them from your diet is not a wise choice.
Caulfield is referencing a 2006 study that found that 82% of the 371 gluten-free dieters tracked gained weight after two years. Another study he references followed 149 kids with celiac disease who went on a gluten-free diet for at least 12 months and found that the percentage of overweight children nearly doubled.
The weight gain may be caused by people eating gluten-free pasta and bread instead of the regular versions. These gluten-free versions may not be as healthy as the regular versions.