You may have heard a lot about gluten, or at the very least, heard the word thrown around. A lot of products these days now come with a label indicating that they are gluten-free. But what exactly is gluten, and why is it important to know if certain foods contain it?
Gluten is a term used to refer to a family of storage proteins known as prolamins, that are common in grains. Different kinds of foods and grains contain different kinds of prolamins, which are appropriately differently named. For example, the prolamins in wheat are known as glutenins and gliadins, while those found in barley are known as hordeins. These prolamins are responsible for a lot of textural characteristics of common foods like bread and other foods that contain, or are manufactured from, grains.
However, there’s a dark-side to gluten. Despite not adversely affecting a majority of the population, many with pre-existing conditions have a sensitivity to the proteins that greatly puts their health at risk.
If you have noticed digestive issues or other adverse symptoms after consuming gluten-containing foods, you should consult a professional. We recommend these Gastroenterologist in Lahore, if you reside in the area.
When Should You Be Concerned?
Because gluten is such a common set of proteins that is present in the majority of food types in most diets across the globe, it is difficult to avoid it. You should only really be worried about it if you have certain conditions that are aggravated by the presence of gluten in the body.
These conditions include:
- Coeliac Disease: This is an autoimmune disorder in which immune cells of the body target gluten as it sees it as a pathogen, a foreign harmful particle. When triggered by the presence of gluten, immune cells may also inadvertently damage the lining of the gut. Some of the symptoms that can indicate sensitivity to gluten through this disease are diarrhea, headaches, bloating, feces that smell particularly bad, and fatigue.
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome: This is a condition that is not solely affected by gluten, but by a wide variety of different foods. Symptoms of this disorder include bloating, cramps, abdominal pain and diarrhea.
- Wheat Allergy: People suffering from a general wheat allergy may experience symptoms after consuming foods rich in gluten.
You may also be sensitive to gluten despite not having any underlying conditions, which is known as non-Coeliac gluten sensitivity. Though not precisely defined, you may be diagnosed with this if you show certain symptoms after consuming gluten. These include bloating, abdominal pain, fatigue, skin rashes, feelings of depression or anxiety, constipation, and diarrhea.
Gluten-Free Diet Foods
If you’re concerned that you might be intolerant to gluten, you may want to consider trying some of these foods as alternatives to your regular diet.
Fruits and Vegetables
These can make up quite large portion of your diet and supplement your nutritional needs if you’re cutting down on gluten. You can try mushrooms, carrots, cauliflower, spinach, green beans, apples, bananas and peaches. There’s so much variety in these groups.
Gluten-Free Whole Grains
You could also replace your regular grains with gluten-free ones. These include brown rice, millet, quinoa, and tapioca.
As we’ve said before, the majority of the world’s population is not adversely affected by gluten. Symptoms associated with gluten intolerance may arise due to some other factors. For confirmation, we recommend consulting a professional. You may want to look into a Gastroenterologist in Karachi, if you reside there.