What is Gluten

glutenGluten is a protein composite found in several types of grains, including wheat, spelt, rye and barley.Gluten consists of two proteins… gliadin and glutenin. It is the gliadin part that people react negatively to. When flour is mixed with water, gluten forms a sticky cross-linked network of proteins, giving elastic properties to dough and allowing bread to rise when baked .

Actually, the name gluten is derived from these glue-like properties. When gluten reaches the digestive tract and is exposed to the cells of the immune system, they mistakenly believe that it is coming from some sort of foreign invader, like a bacteria.

In certain people who are sensitive to gluten, this causes the immune system to mount an attack against it. In celiac disease (the most severe form of gluten sensitivity), the immune system attacks the gluten proteins, but it also attacks an enzyme in the cells of the digestive tract called tissue transglutaminase.

Therefore, gluten exposure in celiacs causes the immune system to attack both the gluten as well as the intestinal wall itself. For this reason, celiac disease is classified as an autoimmune disease.The immune reaction can cause degeneration of the intestinal wall, which leads to nutrient deficiencies, various digestive issues, anemia, fatigue, failure to thrive as well as an increased risk of many serious diseases.

There are also studies showing that the rate of celiac disease is increasing rapidly in the population.

Gluten is  found in wheat, rye, barley, some processed oats and any food made with these grains. Bread, Pasta, Noodles, Biscuits, Cookies, Pastries, Couscous, Flour Tortillas, Muffinsm Cereal, Cereal barsm Crackers, Some processed oats, beer pasta, couscous, bread, flour tortillas, muffins commonly contain gluten. There are replacements for many of these foods that are made without gluten, and labelled as ‘Gluten Free’. Again there are natural foods like soy which do not contain gluten and hence processed foods made from them too, but yet again these processed foods may be made in a manufacturing unit which manufactured gluten containing foods like noodles and there will be a chance of cross-contamination. In such cases it is important that the machinery be cleaned of any traces of the protein before the concerned food goes into production. Also gluten presence has to be evaluated during the process to rule out contamination.

 

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