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What is gluten? What foods contain gluten?

Monday, September 6, 2021


Gluten, a type of protein group; It is found in grains such as barley, wheat and rye. Gluten, which is also found in processed foods using these grains, is a food difficult to digest by the human body.

It consists of a mixture of different proteins that give consistency to the nutrients it is used in, make them ferment and help the products connect. Gluten and gliadin are two main proteins found in gluten.

Gliadin, one of these protein types; It is an antigenic substance with high elongation ability. It provides bakery products such as bread to rise during cooking. This substance, which is mostly tolerated by the body, can occasionally cause the immune system to react and some allergic reactions to occur.

People with conditions such as gluten sensitivity, celiac disease, wheat allergy, and irritable bowel syndrome should not consume gluten. In some research results, it is accepted that people who do not have any of these diseases do not consume gluten as well.

Frequently asked “What’s in gluten?” Before answering the question “What is Gluten?” you need to answer that.

What is gluten?

Gluten, which is found in cereals such as barley, wheat, and rye, is a protein group that forms the net-like structure of the dough used in bakery products such as bread and bagels and gives elasticity to the dough. The proteins that make up the gluten are classified into two main groups: prolamine and gluten.

Gliadin is the protein in the prolamine group. It causes an allergic reaction in people with gluten intolerance and celiac patients. When gluten combines with water, it turns into a hard but flexible material. Its adhesive properties make the dough elastic while allowing the dough to ferment and swell during baking.

Gluten, which also gives the product a chewable feature, is responsible for the soft and crispy texture that satisfies the person during chewing. Frequently asked “What does gluten mean?” The question can be answered in this way. Gluten, which is extremely effective especially in wheat, is frequently used in bread production. Gliadin, which is in this water insoluble protein group, is a difficult substance to digest.

So it can cause digestive problems in some people. While many people can tolerate gluten, celiac patients should not be consumed by people with certain conditions such as gluten sensitivity, wheat allergy. When gluten is consumed by celiac patients, the immune system reacts and damages the small intestine tissue.

Atrophy, in other words, blindness occurs in the villus in the small intestines or in finger-like structures that absorb nutrients in other words. Absorption of vitamins and minerals necessary for the body is disrupted without villi. Accordingly, different health problems may arise.

In what foods is gluten found?

For some people, gluten, which causes digestive problems and much more serious health problems, is found especially in grains such as barley, wheat, rye. Some of the other foods containing gluten are listed below:

  • Dough products such as bread, pretzels, pita bread and lavash
  • Pasta, couscous, bulgur, soup and cereals
  • Semolina and candies
  • Cake and cake types
  • Food and beverages with malt, malt sweetener and malt products
  • Products made with graham flour, phosphate flour and natural wheat flour
  • French fries, chips and processed meats
  • Products with soy sauce, lecithin and modified food starch
  • Salad dressings and dried nuts with sauce

Since wheat is added to processed foods, most of these products contain gluten. Therefore, people who are sensitive to gluten should pay attention to the warnings on the back of the package before consuming such products.

Who should be gluten-free?

In the limited studies conducted in recent years, it has been observed that feeding with gluten-free products increases the general health status, makes the person feel more dynamic and helps to lose weight.

Different studies also suggest that maintaining a gluten-free diet is not necessary for health. Therefore, there is no consensus yet on whether healthy individuals should avoid gluten.

However, people with certain ailments should be fed gluten free. These ailments can be listed as follows:

Celiac Disease

Celiac disease, triggered by genetic and environmental factors, usually occurs when a person consumes gluten-containing foods after 1 year of age. Celiac disease, which causes symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite and restlessness, can also lead to symptoms such as retardation, inability to gain weight, infertility and osteoporosis.

For the diagnosis of gluten disease, where the only treatment option is gluten-free diet, the physician asks for a blood test after the physical examination. The reaction of the immune system against gluten is measured with the serology test. With the HLA genetic test, HLA-DQ2 and HLA-DQ8 genes are investigated.

The fact that these genes are positive in the person increases the likelihood that the person will have celiac disease. In this case, the gastroenterologist performs a biopsy with endoscopy to clarify the diagnosis. The endoscope, consisting of a thin flexible tube with an optical imaging device at the tip, is inserted from the person’s mouth to the small intestine.

When necessary, tissue samples are taken with an endoscope to observe villi damage on the inner surface of the small intestine. When celiac disease is not treated, there is an insufficiency in the absorption of nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, proteins and carbohydrates necessary for the body. Depending on all this, many different health problems can arise.

Gluten intolerance

Gluten intolerance, an allergic reaction seen due to the inability of the gluten from food sources to be tolerated by the body, is sometimes defined as non-celiac gluten intolerance. There is no diagnostic test specific to this condition where the tests for celiac disease are negative.

For diagnosis, gluten is removed from the diet for 1 to 3 months. During this period, the diagnosis is made with decreasing symptoms and increasing symptoms when continuing to feed on gluten. Diagnosis of the illness, which is thought to be in approximately 13% of the society, is difficult.

In addition to common symptoms such as headache, abdominal pain, fatigue, diarrhea, constipation, bloating, nausea, there are less common symptoms such as muscle and joint pain, severe abdominal pain, anemia, anxiety, and depression. Gluten-free nutrition is the only treatment option.

Wheat Allergy

Wheat allergy, which is more common in children than adults, can be defined as an abnormal response of the immune system to at least one of the proteins in wheat.

In some people, symptoms that can only occur with inhalation of wheat flour are mostly seen as difficulty breathing, bloating, nausea, dizziness, rapid pulse, urticaria, low blood pressure and loss of consciousness.

Treatment of the disease, which can also cause life-threatening anaphylaxis, is done by removing wheat and wheat proteins from the diet. People who are allergic to wheat and at risk of severe reactions may need to carry an injection of epinephrine with them.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Many people with the disease also known as restless bowel syndrome cannot tolerate gluten. Symptoms seen in irritable bowel syndrome may increase with gluten consumption. In some patients on a gluten diet, symptoms have also been observed to decrease.

What is a gluten diet?

Gluten diet is a nutrition program that is applied to celiac patients, gluten intolerant and wheat allergy for the purpose of treatment. People who aim to eliminate health problems arising from gluten consumption and those who want to eat only gluten-free can also follow the gluten diet.

Quinoa, potatoes, brown rice, oats, corn, millet, lean beef, seafood, chicken, eggs, fruits and vegetables, as well as products that need flour, soy, almonds, potatoes, peas and coconut flour can be consumed.

It is important for gluten dieters to pay attention to the warnings on the back of the product before purchasing packaged products. If you have more complaints with gluten consumption, don’t forget to have your health checks done. We wish you healthy days.

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