What is Gluten?

By Kelly Jirsa

What is Gluten?
What is this highly discussed substance? How and why does it effect health?

Gluten is a naturally occurring protein found in wheat, barley, rye and triticale (a hybrid grain). To get all techy, it is found precisely in the endosperm or tissue in seeds, its role is to nourish the plant embryo during the plant’s initial growth period. The gluten in the seeds which is ground to make flour gives dough it’s elasticity. It’s used in a variety of food, cosmetics and pharmaceutical products because it is a stabilising agent, helping food maintain shape and hold ingredients together.

More tech-talk: Gluten is made of two different proteins, gliadin and glutenin.

Is Gluten bad?

For people with the autoimmune Coeliac disease and those with wheat allergies, it certainly is.

For Coeliacs gluten can cause symptoms such as diarrhea, fatigue and joint pain, leading to malaborption of nutrients, osteoporosis, an increased risk of intestinal lymphomas.

For those with allergies, it can cause skin, respiratory or gastrointestinal reactions.

“The main cause of gluten intolerance is genetics, and the specific genes associated with the condition have been isolated.”

Gary Adams, Associate Professor in Diabetes Health and Therapeutics and Stephen Harding, Professor of Applied Biochemistry, both at the University of Nottingham.

The researchers suggest that “Some on the milder end of the intolerance scale may not see that having some gluten every now and again is a problem.”

If you experience symptoms related to gluten intolerance be sure to consult a dietitian or your general practitioner for an accurate diagnosis.





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