Friday, August 21, 2015

What’s The Deal With Gluten?

            Recently many people have been avoiding gluten like the plague, eliminating all things wheat out of their diet.  Within the past year or so that’s become a lot easier since everything, frequently including fruits and vegetable (things that never contained gluten to begin with) are labeled as being “gluten free”.  Many people even choose to purchase a product labeled gluten free just because they assume it to be healthier.  The funny thing is, most of us probably don’t even know what gluten is, let alone what it does or why its supposed to be bad for us!            
           This brings us to our first question: What is gluten? Gluten is a group of proteins found in wheat including mainly gliadins and glutenins1.  These proteins contribute to the structure in bread and wheat products.  Gluten sensitive individuals typically have adverse reactions, including bloating, gas, diarrhea, cramping, and abdominal pain, after eating foods containing wheat products or any foods containing gluten1.  Some individuals suffer from celiac disease, which, in short, is an autoimmune disorder with genetic predisposition that causes an inflammatory reaction in the small intestine whenever gluten is ingested 2.  These symptoms are similar to those of individuals with gluten sensitivity, but much more severe.  If gluten is not removed from the diet, long-term effects such as anemia and vitamin deficiencies may also arise.  However, current research suggests that there is no reason for any member of the general population, except those suffering from celiac disease and other forms of gluten allergy or sensitivity to exclude these proteins from their diet1.  A recent double-blind study showed that individuals who have reported being sensitive to gluten, were in fact not just sensitive to gluten specifically, but a number of different foods, including some poorly-digestibly carbohydrates2.  Only 8% of the individuals participating in the study turned out to be purely gluten sensitive2.  
           So in conclusion, very few people actually seem to benefit from eliminating gluten from their diet.  Most individuals will actually benefit from consuming whole grain products, which actually have a number of different health benefits.  So, if you haven’t noticed any changes in your bowel habits after eating gluten, there’s probably no significant reason for you not to do so.  Regardless of your decision, be sure to always talk to your doctor before making any changes to your diet.


1.  Brouns, F., Buul, V. v., and Shewry, P. Does wheat make us fat and sick? Journal of Cereal Science, 58, 209-215.2.  Biesiekierski, J., Peters, S., Newnham, E., Rosella, O., Muir, J., and Gibson, P. No Effects of Gluten in Patients with Self-Reported Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity after Dietary Reduction of Fertmentable, Poorly Absorbed Short-Chain Carbohydrates.  Gastroenterology, 145, 320-328.

2.  Fleming, Alesha.  Natural Health and Wellness Chiropractic., Daytona Beach, FL, 2015.

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