Gluten: what is it and why is it harmful

Gluten: what is it and why is it harmful
Gluten: what is it and why is it harmful

Is it true that a gluten-free diet helps to get rid of migraines, obesity, thyroid problems, or is it just another fad, an eating disorder like anorexia and bulimia? Home Hearth was figuring out a mystery called gluten.

Gluten: what is it and why is it harmful

Mechanism of action

Gluten, or gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley, attacks the walls of the small intestine, and over time, gaps appear in them, through which gluten molecules enter the bloodstream. The body mobilizes immune defenses to destroy them. Unfortunately, gluten molecules are very similar to the molecules of our body, so the immune system destroys our own cells at the same time, thus damaging the most sensitive internal organs - the liver, thyroid gland, brain vessels, sinuses and others. In addition, the digestion process is disturbed - due to gaps pierced by gluten, nutrients from food (proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals) are no longer normally absorbed by the body.

Total gluten intolerance is called celiac disease - this is the highest degree of sensitivity. Celiac disease is a hereditary disease. Gluten intolerance is detected through a blood test (called a celiac disease panel) and persists for life.


The classic symptoms of celiac disease - bloating, chronic constipation and diarrhea, unexplained thinness - are not found in everyone. Instead, patients may complain of anemia, migraines, bone and joint pain, chronic fatigue, infertility, osteoporosis, or fainting. This is why it can be so difficult to suspect celiac disease. The most reliable way to check is to take a blood test. After a few months of a strict gluten-free diet, the symptoms usually disappear and the walls of the small intestine "heal". So far, diet is the only solution that doctors recommend, but in the near future, scientists promise a drug that increases intestinal resistance to gluten.

Myth or truth?

Most likely the growing sensitivity to gluten is the price for our excessive consumption of baked goods and fast food. Today, about 30-40% of people have a moderate sensitivity to gluten," gastroenterologist Alessio Fasano cites the data. This condition can appear intermittently, be asymptomatic, and it is currently impossible to detect it with the help of analysis.

The lack of a reliable test leads many medical professionals to call gluten sensitivity a "crowd effect", a made-up problem. Yes, there are people with hereditary celiac disease. But if you don't have a blood test showing a gluten problem, don't experiment with your diet, you'll just screw up your metabolism, doctors say.

How to switch to a gluten-free diet

Thick and flavorful mashed soups, seasoned baked vegetables, salads with nuts and olives, fresh fruit with whipped cream, cereals, and even chocolate truffles or mousse for dessert, all fit into the gluten-free diet.

First of all, you need to carefully study and remember the list of foods that contain a large amount of gluten. They will have to be excluded from the daily menu.

Including not only products made from wheat and rye flour, barley, but also, for example, industrial yogurt, mayonnaise, ice cream. Gluten is added to them to create a dense texture, and also as a preservative.

List of store-bought foods that often contain gluten:

M alt and m alt extract, ready-made soups and broths (liquid and cubes), prepared meats, french fries (often floured before freezing), processed cheese, blue cheeses, mayonnaise and ketchup, soy sauce and teriyaki sauce, marinades, imitation crab meat, sausage, ready-made chocolate milk, fruit fillings and puddings, ice cream, energy bars, flavored coffee and tea, oat bran, roasted nuts, beer.

Gluten Free:

Buckwheat, corn, millet, potatoes, quinoa.

Rice, soy, tapioca, sorghum, amaranth.

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