What in the World is Gluten?
- Gluten is a type of plant protein found in high amounts in grains such as wheat, barley, spelt, and rye. It is also found in: malt extract, vegetable starch, soy sauce, pasta, beer, whole-meal flour, and bran.
- Gluten is the main protein component of wheat. The closer a grain is related to wheat, the greater its ability to cause gluten-related health problems. For example, rice and corn are far removed from wheat and appear not to activate those health problems related to Gluten, often diagnosed as Celiac Disease.
- Today’s strains of wheat and other grains have been modified to contain more gluten protein than the wheat and grains existing hundreds of years ago.
What are the Effects of Gluten on the Body?
- For those sensitive to Gluten, there may be serious health concerns. Gluten has a direct destructive effect on the epithelial cells, which line the small intestine.
- The resultant damage to the lining of the small intestine is sometimes diagnosed as Celiac Disease, but anyone sensitive to Gluten can suffer its harmful effects. This damage results in a decreased ability to absorb food (minerals, vitamins, and fats, mainly), irritable bowel syndrome, inflammation, and lactose intolerance.
- Additionally, the irritation and damage suffered by the intestines leads to their increased permeability. Multiple food allergies usually are the result, and this situation can be referred to as “Leaky Gut Syndrome.”
- Conditions such as thyroid abnormalities, diabetes, psychiatric disturbances, and hives have all been linked to gluten intolerance.
- There is an association between Gluten and an increased risk for malignant cancers in those with Celiac Disease.
- Partially digested wheat gluten is associated with schizophrenia due to its ability to interfere with regular brain activity. Because of the increased damage to Gluten’s intestines, partially digested wheat gluten is more likely to enter the bloodstream.
- Gluten sensitivity may vary from mild to severe and may never be diagnosed as Celiac Disease. It is unnecessary to have Celiac Disease suffer from the harmful effects of Gluten’s irritation and damage to the intestinal lining.
- Recurrent canker sores are evidence of an allergic reaction to Gluten.
What to do to Avoid Gluten
For most people, the best advice is to avoid wheat and related grains as much as possible. Some may have to remove wheat from their diet entirely. You will have to become an avid label reader as wheat is found in many foods, even those deemed organic.
Remember, it is up to you to avoid the damaging effects of Gluten on your digestive and immune systems. Many allergies can be eliminated by avoiding wheat.
Do you or someone who you experience digestive stress? Call us today; we can help!
At Nutritional Wellness Center, we work to determine the root cause of digestive distress through Nutrition Response Testing® and dietary changes. We are here to help you design a program for a healthy life!
Sources: “Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine” by Michael Murray and Joseph Pizzorno, “Textbook of Medical Physiology” by Arthur Guyton and John Hall