Recently, gluten has been one of the most searched nutritional topics. Over 17,000 research papers that discuss gluten have been published.
So what’s wrong with that guy?
Well, people became increasingly caring about gluten because it has been associated with a common gut disease called “Celiac Disease.”
There is also a plethora of research that discusses other effects of gluten on different aspects of human health, other than gut health.
For example, some contradictory evidence says that gluten can lead to obesity, while others say a gluten-free diet can treat kids with Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and much more stuff!
As a result, food companies started making some “gluten-free” foods, claiming their countless benefits. This added to the confusion and made people wonder if this food really helps.
This article will clear all doubts about gluten and answer the most googled questions about it.
Ultimately, after reading this article, you will know whether you should really avoid it or not.
Gluten: A Brief Overview
Gluten is a protein present in wheat and other grain products. It forms large interconnected structures called gluten-protein complexes during the cooking process.
These complexes are what make the bread rise. They also provide some elasticity to the product.
Gluten is made of many proteins. The most important of them is gliadin.
Gliadin is what is responsible for the variety of problems caused by gluten, like celiac disease and many others.
Will I Get Celiac Disease If I Consume Gluten-Rich Food?
One of the main reasons why the gluten-free diet was invented (and most probably why you are reading this article) is celiac disease.
Some people, for unknown reasons, are allergic to gluten, specifically gliadin. When they ingest it, they start developing gastrointestinal problems like bloating, vomiting and diarrhea.
This happens because their immune system, for poorly understood reasons, creates an immune response against gliadin, leading to gut inflammation.
This makes their gut sick and leads to symptoms.
Now you may wonder, if I consume gluten-rich food, will I get celiac?
Short answer: No.
Celiac happens due to the presence of some genetic predisposition in addition to some environmental factors.
Therefore, only genetically predisposed people will get celiac disease if they consume gluten.
Some research studies tried to investigate the environmental triggers of celiac. Some of these studies suggest that introducing gluten to infants between 4 to 6 months of age results in a reduction of risk.
However, a recent meta-analysis found no significant relationship between the timing of gluten introduction and the risk of developing celiac disease (1).
So, if you’re a mom of an infant, it is okay to introduce gluten at any time.
Is There A Pill For Gluten Sensitivity?
In addition to the gluten-free diet, some companies even market pills they claim to “help in celiac disease.
First of all, you should know that no pill or supplement can treat (or reverse) celiac disease.
However, the only thing that might work (in addition to a gluten-free diet) is a newly discovered enzyme called Aspergillus niger-derived PEP (AN-PEP). This is the only supplement supported by research (2).
This is an enzyme that can degrade gluten and control the symptoms of celiac disease. This is the only thing that you should buy for your condition. Otherwise, it is a complete waste of your money.
Will Gluten Make Me Chubby?
Gluten-free diets haven’t only been used for patients with celiac disease. They have also been used for many other health conditions like obesity.
Is there actual evidence regarding this aspect? Or it is just pseudoscience to market these products.
Unfortunately, we haven’t reached a single correct answer for that so far. A research study on animals found that gluten can directly influence fatty tissue and cause weight gain (3).
However, this study is done on animals, so we need further evidence to determine the impact of gluten consumption on human health.
It would be better to limit the amount of calorie intake in general, rather than limiting only gluten since there is not enough evidence on that.
Conclusion: Do I Really Need To Avoid Gluten?
You don’t need to avoid gluten if you haven’t been diagnosed with celiac disease.
Eating a gluten-rich diet won’t make you develop celiac disease because you need to be genetically predisposed, and it is unlikely that it will increase your weight.
Instead, it would be a good idea to focus on your food in general and exclude the stuff proven to be unhealthy like fast foods, refined sugars, etc.
Have you ever been on a gluten-free diet? Let us know down in the comments how your experience was!