Gluten-free: myths, health benefits

Image by Luisella Planeta Leoni from Pixabay

What is the main thing in healthy nutrition? That’s right – read the label.
Let’s talk about gluten – as well as about GMOs, there are many different rumors and myths about this substance. Some of them are justified, but others should not be feared at all.

It is difficult to imagine an ancient product than bread. Unless some meat dishes. People have eaten bread for millennia, since baked goods from flour are very rich in carbohydrates and a variety of healthy compounds, including gluten. It was gluten around the last years that a real hysteria arose, people began to refuse products that contain it. All the blame is gluten.

Gluten (gluten – its second name) is found mainly in cereals: wheat, barley, rye, and oats. That is precisely in what bread of various grades is usually made. Gluten is a mixture of protein compounds that form an elastic complex like a web (in fact, it’s a little more complicated). In combination with water, gluten gives the test ductility and does not allow it to crumble. It is easy to understand that without gluten, baking bread simply does not work.
This substance is also responsible for the fact that the baking rises: elastic gluten does not allow bubbles of carbon dioxide to leave the dough, preserving the cellular structure of the bubbles. During heat treatment, gluten ceases to be viscous, but retains some elasticity, so the bread returns to its shape when pressed.

The problem began with the fact that doctors established: about 1% of all people on earth do not tolerate gluten. This is due to the disease celiac disease – a digestive disorder in which the villi of the small intestine are damaged when exposed to gluten and related proteins (avein, hordein). Gluten intolerance leads to impaired absorption of nutrients and, as a result, diarrhea, pain in the abdomen, exhaustion, low mood, and even depression.
Such people, indeed, do not eat bread. More precisely, not all bread – there is baking without gluten, but it weakly resembles lush buns, and it tastes peculiar. However, scientists are learning to change the structure of gluten so that the dough retains its elastic properties and taste, and there is no harm to the intestines. But this is still only a development; mass yet has not received such “depleted” gluten.

In fact, gluten intolerance resembles an allergy. The consequences of using gluten can be worse than bloating – the body can stop absorbing vitamins, proteins, and carbohydrates, which can lead to diabetes and intestinal cancer. One caveat – only for patients with celiac disease.

Recognizing this rare genetic disease is easy if you have a minimal observation. Just note how your body responds to regular bread, if not, you don’t have it. For comparison, people suffer from milk intolerance much more often: every fifth Russian and nine out of ten adult Chinese or Japanese.
It would seem, what do healthy people have to do with it, if gluten is contraindicated in only 1% of our species? The fact is that marketers took advantage of the gluten harm by starting to write important information on its contents in bright and large fonts on the packaging. Many people are allergic to peanuts, and a warning about its possible contents (even traces) is written in small print along with the rest of the ingredients. Gluten in this sense should not differ from peanuts.

Consumers quickly picked up a somewhat dishonest wave of the words “Gluten-free!” And endowed the phrase “No harm!” Recall that gluten does not harm a healthy person, but there was no stopping the marketing. A gluten-free diet quickly became a trend, and along with sufficiently high-calorie baking products, “Gluten-free!” Became just a cult. Any cult, as you know, is associated with mythology.

Myth # 1: Gluten-free foods cause flatulence and bloating
Many opponents (especially opponents) of gluten complained about these symptoms to manufacturers. However, the researchers conducted a blind test and confirmed that the strength of the placebo effect was astounding: those who ate gluten-free foods but didn’t know about it actually began to suffer from increased gas production. The rest of the tests showed: healthy gluten does not threaten to swell.

Myth # 2: Gluten Promotes Obesity
Not. Obesity arises from the uncontrolled absorption of fats and carbohydrates, the lack of motor activity, and poor diet. Bread and other pastries, in fact, significantly add calories and can lead to the deposition of fat reserves. Gluten is, of course, not to blame. You just need fewer buns.

Myth # 3: Gluten Causes Cancer and Cardiovascular Disease
Yes, it can cause terrible diseases if the patient already has celiac disease. Yes, pastries (which contain gluten) can affect unhealthy cholesterol levels, but for the same reason, an unbalanced diet and too many calories. And there is not a single scientific study that would confirm the direct harm of gluten to a healthy person, there is no increased risk of cancer.

Myth # 4: Washing powder, soap, and gluten-free cosmetics is healthier.
Indeed, if you suffer from celiac disease, then a detergent containing gluten will cause unwanted reactions in the intestines. However, any washing powder will not benefit if eaten, right? It doesn’t matter if there is gluten in cosmetics until you eat it, there will be no harm. This is another ploy of marketers because the demand for household chemicals with the words “Gluten-free” is also higher.

Myth # 5: Gluten-free diet gives you more energy.
Vigor is an indicator that cannot be measured. Vegetarians say that plant food basically eliminates the effects of lethargy, especially after meals. In theory, this can be attributed to the fact that vegans do not eat “heavy” food, for example, the same meat. It is much easier for our body to absorb a serving of broccoli than to cope with baking, so – yes, maybe vegans do not lie about vigor.

But again, it has no connection with gluten – except, together with gluten, to refuse any “heavy” food and leave the clan of meat-eaters.

Myth # 6: Now there is more gluten in bread than before
It is not true, even genetically modified wheat contains no more gluten than ordinary wheat. The difference can be noticeable by grades, but not by the standards of the time “then and now”. Speaking about cereals, the terrible letters of GMOs (we’ll also talk about them here) most often mean only cultivation of plants, no experiments with genomes in laboratories. Agronomists select the richest crop varieties and do not affect the protein composition of the cereals themselves, and therefore the gluten content.

So do not believe the rumors – they are usually let in by marketers in pursuit of profit. Feel free to eat baked goods, if this is consistent with your diet, and the body does not respond to flour. Well, play sports, look for fitness clubs near the house.


3 thoughts on “Gluten-free: myths, health benefits”

    1. Yeah, some people think that everyone should stop eating gluten, but in real, only people with celiac disease, because we still need to eat this.


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