What is Gluten?

First of all, it's important to point out that gluten is not a good source of quality proteins since it lacks essential amino acids. This does not mean however, that you should not consume foods that contain gluten unless you suffer from some kind of intolerance or sensitivity to it.
What is Gluten?

Last update: 19 March, 2019

Gluten is a component of wheat and all of its varieties such as semolina, kamut, barley, triticale, and rye. It consists of a group of proteins known as glutenins and gliadins.

The main function of gluten is to provide viscoelastic properties and fluffiness to different foods such as pastries and bread.

Foods that contain gluten

As we previously mentioned, this component is found in foods such as bread, pastries, cookies and pizza masses. Thanks to its sensorial properties, it improves the texture of products and the ease with which it can be isolated. Gluten can be found in a wide array of foods such as yogurts, sausages, chocolate as well as certain medicines and food products.

As you already know, it’s made up of a group of proteins that need to be digested and broken down into smaller pieces. There are many people who have difficulties when it comes to digesting gluten this can cause damage or sensitivity since it irritates the small intestine.

Gluten free diet

What is celiac disease?

There are people who have a permanent intolerance to gluten and it is caused by an autoimmune genetic disease known as celiac disease. Celiac disease is characterized by atrophy of the villi of the intestine which causes malabsorption of nutrients.

The most common symptoms of celiac disease are diarrhea, abdominal pain and distension, nutritional deficiencies, irritability, and weight loss. One percent of the population suffers from celiac disease.

How is celiac disease diagnosed?

If you suspect that you have celiac disease or gluten intolerance, the first step you should take is to have a blood test. The blood test will allow for antibodies and serological markers to be detected.

Once blood work is performed, it must be complemented with a biopsy of the small intestine mucous. This is done in order to detect atrophy of the villi. If the diagnosis of celiac disease is made, the treatment simply consists of avoiding consuming foods that contain gluten.

Celiac disease or gluten sensitivity

It’s important to distinguish between celiac disease and gluten sensitivity. There are many people who are sensitive to certain components, however, that doesn’t mean that they have celiac disease. This is the case for most people who feel unwell after eating gluten and feel better when following a strict diet.

The main symptoms of gluten sensitivity are fatigue, joint pain, weight loss and cramps. Interestingly, it’s easier to diagnose celiac disease.

In order to confirm a sensitivity, it’s removed from the diet to see if symptoms disappear. If they do, gluten is then reintroduced to observe if a relapse occurs. If so, it can be diagnosed. The treatment is the same as for celiac disease.

Gluten allergy

Gluten allergy

A gluten allergy should be distinguished from both sensitivity and celiac disease. An allergy can be diagnosed when symptoms appear immediately and intensely after consuming food that contains the component. The main symptoms of this allergy include abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, and hives.

In conclusion, gluten is beneficial when it comes to adding certain properties to foods such as bread, pastries, cookies and pizza masses. However, it can produce different disease in people with an intolerance to it.

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