How healthy is a gluten-free diet?

Gwyneth Paltrow, Ryan Gosling and Jenny McCarthy are adherents of a gluten-free diet, however, not because they have gluten intolerance, but because they believe that it is to strengthen their health. That is why a gluten-free diet has become one of the fashion trends at present. According to experts, in the United States approximately 1.6 million people adhere to such a diet without diagnosed celiac disease. So how useful is a gluten-free diet really? 

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, rye and triticale. It acts as a glue in foods such as cattle, bread and pasta, maintaining their shape. Gluten can also be found in some cosmetic products, such as lipstick, as well as in adhesive on postage stamps and envelopes. 

Some people cannot digest gluten; approximately 18 million Americans have some form of gluten intolerance, which is known as non-celiac gluten susceptibility. Symptoms of this disease include bloating, flatulence, diarrhea, fatigue, headache, and itchy skin rashes.

About one in every 133 people in the United States, representing at least 1% of the population, has celiac disease, which is recognized as a more serious form of gluten intolerance. In celiac disease, gluten causes an immune response in the form of an attack of the immune system on the mucous membrane of the small intestine. Thus, the body is unable to effectively absorb beneficial substances into the bloodstream, which can lead to the development of anemia, slow growth and weight loss.

If untreated, celiac disease can also lead to other conditions, for example, multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis, infertility and neurological conditions; currently, the only effective treatment for celiac disease is a lifelong gluten-free diet.

What is a gluten free diet?

For patients with celiac disease, a gluten-free diet means avoiding any foods that may contain this protein, even in small quantities. Among the products that need to be excluded from the diet, you can find bread, beer, sweets, cereals, cakes, pies, French-freeze, pasta, processed meat and even soups. However, all of the above foods can be consumed if they are labeled as gluten free.  

There are a fairly large number of products that do not contain gluten, including fruits and vegetables, fresh eggs, fresh meat, fish and poultry, unprocessed legumes, seeds and nuts, as well as most of the dairy products.

Many grains and starch can be partially included in the gluten-free diet, including buckwheat, corn and polenta, flaxseed, quinoa, rice, soy and millet. However, patients with celiac disease should be careful with their use, because sometimes they can be mixed with cereals containing gluten supplements.

Following a gluten-free diet was difficult enough for another decade of nazd, since most of the products contained gluten. However, at present in many shops and supermarkets you can also find gluten-free products, although their price is an order of magnitude higher than the cost of ordinary products with gluten.

Why do healthy people go on a gluten-free diet?

According to a survey by NPD Group, a market research company, nearly 30% of adult Americans report a decrease in the proportion of gluten in the diet or even its complete elimination, which far exceeds the number of patients with celiac disease. However, according to scientists, the amount of evidence of the health effects of gluten is significantly limited. So, a 2011 study by Peter Gibson and colleagues at Australian Monash University showed that non-celiac gluten susceptibility can be distinguished as a separate disease. A 2013 study by the same scientists, however, showed opposite results. No evidence of a specific or dose-dependent gluten effect was found among patients with non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

In 2014, a study published in the Journal of Proteome Research showed that wheat non-gluten proteins: serpins, purines, alpha-amylase inhibitors / prostheses, globulins and pharynins can be triggers of celiac disease. According to nutritionist Heinor Bassel, gluten is harmful only if there is confirmed celiac disease. That is why a fairly large number of nutritionists believe that a gluten-free diet in the absence of celiac disease is not beneficial for the body.

In fact, there is a point of view reporting that following a gluten-free diet in the absence of celiac disease can be detrimental to health, because in this case the diet does not have the nutrients necessary to maintain a balanced healthy diet. Lack of gluten in the diet can lead to lower levels of iron, calcium, fiber, folate, thiamine, riboflavin and niacin. 

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