Why giving up gluten may be doing you more harm than good

Gluten is controversial these days. Most sources claim that it is safe for everyone except those who have Celiac disease. On the other hand, some health experts believe that gluten is harmful for most people.

According to a recent survey, more than 30% of Americans actively try to avoid eating gluten.

What is gluten?

Gluten is a family of proteins found in grains like wheat, rye, spelt and barley. Of the gluten-containing grains, wheat is by far the most commonly consumed.

The two main proteins in gluten are glutenin and gliadin. Gliadin is responsible for a majority of the negative health effects.

Per Nathan Myhrvold of Modernist Bread, gluten is a protein that is sold for the bread making process. When water is added to flour, gluten is formed. When you look at a gluten under a microscope, it looks like a network of strains with the elasticity of bread.  You can’t see gluten in dough because it is hidden.

Do this experiment – take a ball of raw dough.  The gluten is hidden by the starch. Put it under water and rinse the dough, you’ll see that you are rinsing off all the starch.  You will be left with almost pure gluten. Gluten is very elastic and gives the stretchy texture of bread.

So, is it time to end the war on gluten?

According to a brand new study out by Harvard and Columbia, it says: “Yes.”

Unless you have Celiac disease, giving up gluten can do you more harm than good.

We were told that gluten is a toxin that causes inflammation. Studies between gluten and heart disease show that there is no difference between people who eat gluten and those who do not eat gluten. We know that whole grains are heart healthy.

People with Celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, or wheat allergy need to stay away from gluten. And some people who are gluten intolerant may need to as well.  However, this intolerance can be caused by other ingredients.

Note: Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder. If you have celiac, your body treats gluten as a foreign invader. Your immune system will attack the gluten, as well as your gut lining.

There is a gluten-free trend because some people think they will lose weight by giving up gluten. And some celebrities are giving up gluten too.  So, others want to hop on the bandwagon.

According to Mark Schatzker, author of The Dorito Effect: The Surprising New Truth About Food and Flavor, some people who give up gluten will lose weight because they are giving up processed carbs.  He also mentions that gluten-free products contain refined carbs so it doesn’t mean gluten-free items are necessarily healthier for you.

Think of this protein analogy with meat. Both gluten and meat are proteins.  Your body breaks down these proteins into amino acids.

Foods high in gluten

The most common sources of gluten are:

  • Wheat
  • Spelt
  • Rye
  • Barley
  • Bread
  • Pasta
  • Cereals
  • Beer
  • Cakes, cookies and pastries






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