Simply walking down an isle of a supermarket you must have seen, “Gluten free” labels popping up from different food products. The gluten free labels in food and the gluten free menus in restaurants are becoming more and more prevalent today. So let us take a look at what is this gluten and why do people suddenly care about it?
What is Gluten?
Gluten is an insoluble protein component made up of two proteins named gliadin and glutenin. Usually gluten is found in certain grains like wheat rye and barley. It helps to nourish the plant embryos during germination. Gluten is also responsible to the elasticity of dough and chewiness of baked products. Now that we have a basic idea of what gluten is let us take a look at what it does to the body and whether people should omit it from their meals.
Is gluten bad for you?
Gluten is only bad for certain people because they are gluten intolerant. These people produce an abnormal immune response to gluten. Some forms of gluten intolerance are celiac disease, and wheat allergy.
Celiac disease is an inherited disease in which food with gluten leads to inflammation and damage in the lining of the small intestine. This impairs intestinal function leading to problems like belly pain, bloating, gas, and diarrhea.
Wheat allergy is an uncommon condition that occurs when a person’s immune system makes an allergic response to wheat proteins. This leads to symptoms like Nausea, stomach cramps, indigestion, vomiting or diarrhea.
There is no cure for these diseases and the only treatment is a gluten free diet. Therefore for this small amount of consumers which is 1-2% of the population the avoidance of gluten containing food is essential. Even though the percentage is very low the consumer foods labelled “gluten free” are rising in number. This suggests that a lot more people are making the choice to go gluten free over and above those with a diagnosed allergy. But why?
To find the answer to this CSRIO conducted a nationwide survey . They found out that those who decide to eliminate gluten tend to do so based on advice from sources such as family, friends, the media and to a lesser extent their GP or a medical specialist. They also found out that 84% of people choosing to go gluten free are the ones who haven’t been diagnosed with gluten intolerance.
The decision to go gluten free is mostly affected by media due to athletes and celebrities touching gluten free diets. According Penn State Hershey dietitian Liz Reiding, it has become almost a marketing tactic. She also stated “Now there are products labelled ‘gluten-free’ that never contained it in the first place — such as water, or bananas,”
The dilatation and author of “Diet Simple” (Life Line Press, 2011) Tallmadge said that for most people a gluten free diet won’t provide a benefit because the whole grains which contain gluten are a good source of fiber vitamins and minerals and gluten free products are made from refined grains and are low in nutrients.
In conclusion it is not essential for people with no gluten intolerance to go gluten free.So do not be fooled by marketing tactics like this the next time you go shopping and choose what you want wisely with a better understanding.
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