Last Updated on June 19, 2023
To eat gluten or not to eat gluten. That has been the real challenge of the healthy nutrition world for the past couple of years as gluten has been designated the culprit behind gut discomfort, fertility problems, skin issues, and much more.
Of course, if you have celiac disease, you should not be eating any food that contains gluten. But only 1% of the population has this disease, and yet the gluten-free diet trend is gaining popularity among a wider crowd.
So should gluten be avoided at all costs? Is gluten bad for gut health? How does it affect the digestive system? Gluten intolerance vs. celiac disease. What is the relationship between gluten and inflammation? Which foods should be eliminated on a gluten-free diet? Does gluten cause weight gain? Here’s a detailed article on how gluten affects the gut, where gluten is found and if it’s as harmful as it’s known to be.
- 1 Gluten: What exactly is it?
- 2 Gluten and gut health
- 3 What has gluten?
- 4 Gluten intolerance vs. celiac disease
- 5 Does gluten cause inflammation?
- 6 Is gluten free healthy?
- 7 Is gluten free good for diabetics?
- 8 Is gluten free keto?
- 9 Can gluten cause headaches?
- 10 Does gluten make you fat?
- 11 Does gluten cause gas?
- 12 Can gluten cause constipation?
- 13 Can gluten cause acne?
- 14 Can gluten intolerance go away?
- 15 To sum up
- 16 Lose weight with fasting
Gluten: What exactly is it?
Gluten is a general name for the proteins naturally found in grains like wheat, rye, and barley. It can also be found in other foods too. Gluten works like glue to help the food maintain its shape.
Gluten and gut health
Gluten can have a significant impact on gut health for certain individuals. For people with celiac disease, an autoimmune condition triggered by gluten consumption, the protein causes an immune response that damages the small intestine lining, leading to digestive issues and nutrient malabsorption.
Even for individuals without celiac disease, gluten sensitivity or non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) may exist, resulting in similar symptoms such as bloating, diarrhea, and abdominal discomfort.
However, it’s important to note that gluten is not inherently bad for gut health in individuals without these conditions. For most people, gluten poses no significant health risks and can be part of a balanced diet. Deciding whether to avoid gluten should be based on personal health circumstances.
What has gluten?
Gluten is a protein found in grains such as wheat, barley, and rye. It is primarily present in foods derived from these grains, including bread, pasta, cereal, baked goods, and many processed foods. Gluten provides elasticity and structure to these products, giving them a desirable texture. It is also used as a thickening agent in various sauces, dressings, and soups. Gluten can also be present in unexpected sources such as beer, certain condiments, processed meats, and even some medications or supplements.
If you have celiac disease or gluten intolerance, here’s a list of gluten-containing foods that you should avoid on your gluten-free diet:
- Wheat and its varieties (wheatberries, durum, emmer, semolina, spelt, farina, farro, graham, einkorn wheat…)
- Brewer’s yeast
These are commonly found in the following foods:
- Pasta, noodles, dumplings…
- Bread and bakery goods like cakes, croissants, crackers, pretzels, bagels…
- Cereals and granolas
- Cookies, chips, energy bars…
- Beer and malt vinegar
- Sauces, dressings, and anything else that contains wheat flour…
The list goes on, but the main thing to do is to read the ingredient labels on your food packaging, especially those who need to avoid gluten due to medical conditions like celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.
Gluten intolerance vs. celiac disease
Celiac is an autoimmune condition. People who have celiac disease should not eat foods containing gluten because it triggers an immune reaction in the lining of the small intestine. This can be dangerous to their health as the lining of the small intestine is responsible for nutrient absorption.
Symptoms of celiac can range from diarrhea, weight loss, and vomiting to more subtle issues like headaches, skin problems, and fertility challenges.
If you suspect you might have celiac disease, it’s important not to diagnose yourself and suddenly cut gluten out of your diet but to consult your doctor first. If you have celiac disease, your doctor will give you advice about how to avoid gluten.
There are also people who don’t have celiac disease but still have problems with gluten. This is called gluten intolerance or non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS).
Gluten intolerance symptoms include gastrointestinal discomfort or similar symptoms of celiac disease like headaches, brain fog, or skin problems. The difference is that they don’t experience the intestinal damage that celiac sufferers do.
The cause behind gluten intolerance symptoms is probably increased inflammation in the body. That’s why people with gluten intolerance may also benefit from a low-gluten or gluten-free diet to eliminate these symptoms.
Does gluten cause inflammation?
Inflammation is a natural response of your body to fight against viruses, germs, and bacteria, and to trigger your body’s healing mechanism. But when the inflammation level increases in the body for long periods, your immune system may be more active than necessary. As a result, your immunity may start attacking even the useful components of your body.
What does all this have to do with gluten? Well, gluten causes a very similar inflammatory reaction. This means that your body perceives gluten as a harmful germ and tries to destroy it, rather than simply digesting it. And this creates chronic inflammation in the body as you continue eating gluten.
Is gluten free healthy?
The question of whether a gluten-free diet is inherently healthy depends on the individual’s specific circumstances. For individuals with celiac disease, a gluten-free diet is necessary as consuming gluten can cause significant harm to their health. Similarly, individuals with diagnosed gluten sensitivity or wheat allergies may also benefit from avoiding gluten.
For individuals without these conditions, there is no evidence to suggest that a gluten-free diet offers general health benefits. In fact, some gluten-free products can be less nutritious, as they may be lower in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, and higher in fat and sugar to compensate for the texture and taste changes caused by the absence of gluten.
Is gluten free good for diabetics?
For individuals with diabetes, adopting a gluten-free diet is not necessarily beneficial solely due to their diabetic condition. Diabetes is primarily related to managing blood sugar levels and carbohydrate intake. While a gluten-free diet eliminates certain sources of carbohydrates, it does not directly address the management of blood sugar levels.
It’s important for diabetics to focus on overall carbohydrate control, portion sizes, and balanced meals. Some gluten-free products may contain higher levels of carbohydrates or added sugars compared to their gluten-containing counterparts.
So it is crucial for individuals with diabetes to carefully read food labels, monitor their carbohydrate intake, and consult with a registered dietitian to create a personalized meal plan that suits their specific dietary needs.
Is gluten free keto?
A gluten-free diet is not inherently keto. The ketogenic (keto) diet focuses on high fat, very low carbohydrate intake, while gluten-free primarily refers to the absence of gluten protein. While some gluten-free foods may fit into a keto diet, not all gluten-free options are low enough in carbohydrates to be considered keto-friendly.
Can gluten cause headaches?
While headaches can be a symptom of gluten sensitivity or celiac disease in some individuals, gluten is not a direct cause of headaches for everyone.
Does gluten make you fat?
Gluten itself does not cause weight gain. However, some gluten-containing foods may be higher in calories or less nutritious, which could contribute to weight gain if consumed in excess.
Does gluten cause gas?
For individuals with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, consuming gluten can lead to digestive symptoms such as bloating and gas. But, not everyone experiences these symptoms and gluten is not the sole cause of gas for everyone.
Can gluten cause constipation?
Gluten intolerance or celiac disease can lead to gastrointestinal issues, including constipation in some individuals. However, constipation is not a universal symptom of gluten consumption.
Can gluten cause acne?
There is limited scientific evidence linking gluten consumption directly to acne. Acne can have various causes, including hormonal factors and genetics, and eliminating gluten is not considered a primary treatment for acne.
Can gluten intolerance go away?
Gluten intolerance, such as celiac disease, is a chronic condition that cannot be cured. However, adherence to a strict gluten-free diet can effectively manage the symptoms and prevent long-term complications.
To sum up
Nowadays, gluten is demonized for many health problems. If advised by your doctor, following a gluten-free diet is the best option for you. But if you don’t have any health problems, enjoying a few snacks and meals that contain gluten isn’t the end of the world.
If your main concern is to reduce inflammation levels in your body, switching to a keto diet, following an intermittent fasting plan, or practicing both of these at the same time will most probably get you there. Fasting will also give you the freedom of enjoying some food containing gluten from time to time. The best fasting tracker you can find, Fasting Kompanion offers you a personalized plan and everything you need on your intermittent fasting journey.