Can a Gluten-Free Diet Benefit You?
Penny S. Harmon
Anyone who is concerned about their health may be thinking about eliminating gluten from their diet. In truth, gluten-free diets have become very popular over the last few years. But will abstaining from gluten really benefit you?
The first thing that needs to be understood is exactly what gluten is and what it does. Gluten is actually a combination of two proteins called gliadin and glutenin. It is found in grassy grains, such as wheat, barley, and rye. In fact, this protein is a great source of nutrition in many countries and is often used to add to the nutritional values of foods that are known to be low in protein.
Many food companies often add gluten into their bread dough. When added to the mixture, it can change the consistency, as well as play a role in the rising of the dough. The science of it can mean a chewier dough for items like bagels or pizza dough. Even pet food companies use it in different foods as a protein additive and to help with the consistency of the food.
Unfortunately, many people are having adverse reactions associated to their intake of gluten. Those who have been diagnosed with Celiac disease will benefit greatly with a gluten-free diet. As Celiac disease involves a reaction to partially digested gliadin and can wreak havoc on one's intestinal functions.
Other research has shown that gluten can be linked to certain allergies. Asthma is an example that is known to be related to certain irritants, such as smoke, pollen, dust, and chemicals. In fact, some of the research conducted showed that a high number of children who were diagnosed with asthma are also diagnosed with Celiac disease. Not only that, but many individuals who have asthma and follow a gluten-free diet have less exercise-induced episodes of asthma.
So what does this mean for individuals without Celiac disease? What many are discovering is that by eliminating gluten from their diets, they simply feel better. Anyone who has had previous intestinal difficulties may find there are less occurrences. In fact, some people who choose a gluten-free lifestyle find improvements in the health conditions they have been diagnosed with.
One example is with autism. Research has shown that when gluten fails to be broken down by the body, it can attach itself to opiate receptors in the brain. Autistic children who receive a high-intake of gluten in their diets often show symptoms similar to those of being on opium. They may experience a high sense of relaxation to the point where they are unable to focus. Removing gluten from their diets has proven to be effective for some.
As with anything, there is always a downside. Becoming gluten-free is not easy. Gluten is often used in a wide variety of foods as a thickening agent and can even be found in lipsticks and over-the-counter medications. However, if you are concerned about your overall health, you may find that a gluten-free diet can help you to feel healthier.
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