Gluten, a type of protein group; It is found in grains such as barley, wheat, and rye. Gluten, which is also found in processed foods using these grains, is a food that is difficult to digest by the human body. Gluten, which gives consistency to the foods it is used, provides fermentation, and helps the products to bind together, consists of a mixture of different proteins. Gluten and gliadin are the two main proteins found in gluten. Gliadin of these protein types; is an antigenic substance with high elongation ability. It allows bakery products such as bread to rise while baking. This substance, which is mostly tolerated by the body, can cause the immune system to react and some allergic reactions from time to time. People with gluten sensitivity, celiac disease, wheat allergy, and irritable bowel syndrome should not consume gluten. In some research results, it is accepted that people who do not have any of these diseases are healthier not to consume gluten. Frequently asked, “What is gluten in?” Before answering the question “What is Gluten?” this must be answered.
What is gluten?
Gluten, found in grains such as barley, wheat, and rye, is a protein group that creates the mesh-like structure of the dough used in bakery products such as bread and bagels and gives elasticity to the dough. The proteins that makeup gluten are classified into two main groups as prolamine and gluten. Gliadin is a protein in the prolamine group. It causes an allergic reaction in people with gluten intolerance and celiac disease. When gluten is combined with water, it transforms into a hard but flexible substance. Its sticky feature makes the dough elastic while allowing the dough to rise and rise during baking. At the same time, gluten, which gives the product a chewy feature, is also responsible for the soft and crunchy texture that satisfies the person during chewing. Frequently asked, “What does gluten mean?” The question can be answered in this way. Especially effective in wheat, gluten is frequently used in bread production. Gliadin, which is in this protein group, which is insoluble in water, is a substance that is difficult to digest. Therefore, it can cause digestive problems in some people. While many people can tolerate gluten, it should not be consumed by people with certain conditions such as celiac patients, gluten sensitivity, wheat allergy. When gluten is consumed by celiac patients, the immune system reacts and damages the small intestine tissue. Atrophy or atrophy occurs in the villi in the small intestines, or in other words, finger-like structures that allow the absorption of nutrients. Without villi, the absorption of vitamins and minerals necessary for the body is impaired. Depending on this, different health problems may occur.
Which foods are gluten found in?
For some people, gluten is found in grains such as barley, wheat, and rye, which can cause digestive problems and much more serious health problems. Some of the other foods that contain gluten are listed below:
- Dough products such as bagels, pita, and lavash, especially bread
- Pasta, couscous, bulgur, soups, and cereals
- Semolina and confectionery
- Cake and cake types
- Food and beverages containing malt, malt flavoring, and malt products
- Products made with graham flour, phosphate flour, and natural wheat flour
- French fries, chips, and processed meats
- Products with soy sauce, lecithin, and modified food starch
- Salad dressings and sauced nuts
Most such products contain gluten, like wheat is added to processed foods. Therefore, people who are sensitive to gluten should pay attention to the warnings on the back of the package before consuming such products.
Who should be gluten-free?
In recent years, limited studies have shown that eating gluten-free products increases the general health status, makes the person feel more dynamic, and helps to lose weight. However, different studies suggest that maintaining a gluten-free diet is not necessary for health. Therefore, there is no consensus yet on whether healthy individuals should avoid gluten. However, people with some ailments should eat gluten-free. These ailments can be listed as follows:
Celiac Disease: Celiac disease triggered by genetic and environmental factors usually occurs after the person consumes foods containing gluten after the age of 1. Celiac disease, which causes symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, and restlessness, can also lead to symptoms such as growth retardation, inability to gain weight, infertility, and osteoporosis. For the diagnosis of gluten disease, where the only treatment option is gluten-free nutrition, the physician asks the person to have a blood test after a physical examination. With the serology test, the immune system’s reaction to gluten is measured. With the HLA genetic test, HLA-DQ2 and HLA-DQ8 genes are investigated. If these genes are positive in the person, the person’s chances of having celiac disease increase. In this case, the gastroenterologist performs a biopsy with an endoscopy to clarify the diagnosis. The endoscope, which consists of a thin and flexible tube with an optical imaging device at the end, is inserted from the person’s mouth to the small intestine. If necessary, tissue samples are taken with the endoscope to observe villus damage on the inner surface of the small intestines. When celiac disease is not treated, deficiency occurs in the absorption of nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, proteins, and carbohydrates necessary for the body. Due to all these, many different health problems may occur.
Gluten intolerance: Gluten intolerance, which is an allergic reaction due to the intolerance of gluten from food sources, is sometimes defined as non-celiac gluten intolerance. There is no specific diagnostic test for this condition, in which tests for celiac disease are negative. For diagnosis, gluten is removed from the diet for 1 to 3 months. During this period, the diagnosis is made with the decrease in symptoms and the increase of symptoms when gluten is continued. The ailment, thought to be in about 13% of the population, is difficult to diagnose. There are common symptoms such as headache and abdominal pain, weakness, diarrhea, constipation, bloating, nausea, as well as less frequent symptoms such as muscle and joint pain, severe abdominal pain, anemia, anxiety, and depression. A gluten-free diet is the only treatment option.
Wheat Allergy: Wheat allergy, which is more common in children than adults, can be defined as an abnormal response of the immune system to at least one of the proteins in wheat. In some people, symptoms that can occur only with the inhalation of wheat flour are often seen as breathing difficulties, bloating, nausea, dizziness, rapid heart rate, urticaria, low blood pressure, and loss of consciousness. The treatment of the disease, which can also cause life-threatening anaphylaxis, is done by removing wheat and wheat proteins from the diet. People who are allergic to wheat and who are at risk of having a severe reaction may need to carry an epinephrine injection with them.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Many people who have the disease, also known as irritable bowel syndrome, cannot tolerate gluten. Symptoms seen in irritable bowel syndrome may increase with gluten consumption. Reduced symptoms have also been observed in some patients on the gluten diet.
What is a gluten diet?
The gluten diet is a nutritional program applied to celiac patients, those with gluten intolerance, and wheat allergy for therapeutic purposes. People who aim to eliminate health problems caused by gluten consumption and those who only want to eat gluten-free can also apply a gluten diet. In addition to quinoa, potatoes, brown rice, oats, corn, millet, lean beef, seafood, chicken, eggs, fruits and vegetables, soy, almonds, potatoes, peas, and coconut flour can be consumed in products that require flour.
Those on a gluten diet need to pay attention to the warnings on the back of the product before purchasing packaged products. If you have complaints that increase with gluten consumption, do not forget to have your health checks. We wish you healthy days.