What is Gluten?
Gluten is the protein in wheat. It is the insoluble protein left behind after starch is washed away from a wheat flour dough.
How is gluten problematic?
Humans don’t digest gluten well. The undigested portions of wheat begin to ferment, producing gas and an acidic environment. Gluten is also a pro-inflammatory agent, which means it rapidly can convert to sugar. This can cause a rise in the body’s insulin levels and consequently create a burst of inflammation at the cellular level.
Consuming gluten can, in some cases, lead to ‘leaky gut syndrome.’ This is when the microvilli of the small intestine (small hair-like projections along its walls) become compromised or even destroyed. This creates a significant impact on the absorption of the nutrients that the body needs to stay healthy. Leaky gut syndrome is a condition where food particles are leaking from your gut into your bloodstream, which may create an immune response and inflammation.
Symptoms of Gluten Intolerance
People who have an intolerance to gluten may experience constipation or diarrhea, excessive bloating, headache, joint pain, fatigue, unexplained mood changes, and the lack of ability to think clearly (sometimes called “brain fog”).
These symptoms are from individual to individual and are not always present altogether. It is a common misconception that symptoms will be the same for every person with gluten intolerance, whereas that is not the case. Some may experience extreme fatigue, while others experience severe bloating. It is important to take note of symptoms to discuss gluten intolerance with your doctor.
It is common for those who suffer from gluten sensitivity to ingest gluten unknowingly or accidentally. This is because gluten is a binding agent for many processed foods and drinks. A few of the most common sources for hidden gluten are below:
- Breaded Fish & Meats
- Fried Foods (like french fries, tater tots, etc.)
- Meat Substitutes
- Bouillon Cubes
- Cocoa Drinks
- Packaged Mixes (like taco seasoning, gravy, etc.)
- Energy Bars
- Salad Dressing
- Soy Sauce
Additionally, it’s important to know how oats can impact a person with gluten intolerance. Oats may be contaminated with gluten-containing grains during processing. They also have a similar structure to gluten-containing grains. Because of these factors, choose gluten-free oats.
Soares RLS. IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME, FOOD INTOLERANCE AND NON- CELIAC GLUTEN SENSITIVITY. A NEW CLINICAL CHALLENGE. Arq Gastroenterol. 2018 Oct-Dec;55(4):417-422. doi: 10.1590/S0004-2803.201800000-88. PMID: 30785529.