“I always feel so bloated after eating bread… I’m definitely gluten intolerant.”
How many times have you heard someone say this?
Gluten-free seems to have grown in popularity over the past number of years with “going gluten free” being a pretty normal thing to do. But is gluten actually bad for us? Is it true that we’re all gluten intolerant? Or is this just another diet myth?
Firstly, what is gluten?
Gluten is actually a protein. This fibrous protein is made up of glutenin and gliadin and is found in wheat, barley and rye. Oats are naturally gluten free but if they are harvested alongside other grains, they can become cross-contaminated with gluten.
Is it actually bad for us?
For those who suffer with coeliac disease (1% of the population), gluten is very bad. Unfortunately, the word coeliac has been thrown around a lot lately meaning people don’t really take it seriously anymore. Coeliac disease is actually serious. For people with this condition, gluten damage and blunts the villi of the small intestine. Villi are like finger like projections through which we absorb nutrients. So for people who are coeliac, they cannot absorb vitamin and minerals from food, causing weight loss and nutrient deficiencies. Symptoms include diarrhoea, abdominal bloating, stomach pain and cramping, tiredness, headaches, weight loss, iron/B12/folate deficiencies and skin rashes. If you are regularly experiencing symptoms such as these, it’s important to visit your doctor to rule out coeliac disease or any other serious conditions such as Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis. The only treatment for coeliac disease is a strict gluten free diet for life. Sufferers cannot have any foods containing gluten or foods that have been contaminated with gluten such as bread made in the same toaster as regular bread or chips fried in the same oil as foods with batter as even the smallest traces of gluten can make them react. Unfortunately, the word coeliac has been thrown around a lot lately meaning people don’t really take it seriously anymore.
So what about Non-Coeliac Gluten Sensitivity (NCGS)?