Gluten is a protein found naturally in some grains including wheat, barley, and rye. It acts as a binder, holding food together and adding an “elastic” quality.
Imagine a pizza maker tossing and stretching out a ball of dough, without gluten, the dough would rip easily. It’s common in foods such as bread, pasta, pizza, and cereal. It is also found in some cosmetic products such as lip balm.
People with celiac disease- severe gluten intolerance, have an immune reaction that is triggered by eating gluten. They develop inflammation and damage in their intestinal tracts and other parts of the body when they eat foods containing gluten. The current estimates suggest that up to 1% of the population has this condition. A gluten-free diet is necessary to eliminate the inflammation, as well as the symptoms. There is no compelling evidence that a gluten-free diet will improve health or prevent disease if you don’t have celiac disease. Of course, future research could change this.
Following a gluten-free diet in the absence of celiac disease could be bad for health as avoiding foods containing gluten can lead to nutritional deficiencies. Many products that contain gluten, such as rice and cereal, are fortified with vitamins. Gluten-free foods are commonly less fortified with folic acid, iron, and other nutrients than regular, gluten-containing foods. Moreover, gluten-free foods tend to have less fiber and more sugar and fat. Several studies have found a trend toward weight gain and a higher risk of cardiovascular disease in the long term among those who follow a gluten-free diet. This is because they miss out on the heart-healthy benefits of whole grains. So if you want to follow a gluten-free diet, ensure your diet is carefully planned to avoid any nutritional deficiencies.