A lot of people may be confused or curious as to why some people go on a gluten-free diet. The reason is simple: they have conditions that make them gluten intolerant. This is the case with people who are afflicted with coeliac disease. Take note that intolerance is different from an allergy. While allergy causes an immune system reaction that affects numerous organs in the body, intolerance is less serious and is limited to digestive problems. This article is going to help you understand what coeliac disease is and its connection with gluten. It will also help you examine if a gluten-free diet is healthy as well as learn about the benefits of following this diet whether you have the disease or not.
What is Coeliac Disease?
Coeliac disease is an autoimmune disorder of the small intestine, which means that the small intestine does not recognize parts or constituents of its own, leading it to attack itself. This is usually genetically predisposed. This means that a person has higher chances of getting the disease based on the genetic variations they have inherited from their parents. Although the inheritance is not entirely the cause of getting the disease, it can contribute to its development. There are no known medications yet that can treat coeliac disease. The only management for this is to go on a gluten-free diet.
The Coeliac-Gluten Connection
Gluten is a protein found in processed wheat and grains such as in flour. It is the component that gives the dough the elasticity which helps it rise. It is also used as an additive to processed meat and other preserves. In a person with coeliac disease, a reaction forms when gluten comes into contact with the linings of the small intestine, which is responsible for the absorption of the nutrients you get from the food you eat. This causes the immune system to attack the delicate lining causing it to become inflamed and flattened, and therefore leading to malabsorption.
For people with coeliac disease, it is healthy to eliminate gluten from their diet. Those that are gluten intolerant experience digestive issues, skin damage, fatigue, and other neurologic symptoms like headaches, so eliminating gluten will definitely be good for them. But what about for those who want to follow the diet even if they don’t have an intolerance for gluten?
Going without Gluten Even without Coeliac
With the increased number of people diagnosed with the coeliac disease, the diet is actually becoming a trend. Even actors and actresses are going on this diet. Shelves in grocery stores are now filled with products labelled gluten-free. There are a lot of benefits in eliminating gluten from your diet, but there are some points to it that you need to be cautious about as well. Following the diet can be good, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is healthier.
Among the benefits of a diet without gluten is that it reduces your consumption of processed foods. By doing so, you reduce your risk for cardiovascular diseases, some types of cancer, and other health conditions such as diabetes. This is also an effective way to lose weight since processed foods are also known to have high fat and sodium content. However, it is not all the time that this diet can be considered balanced. Most foods that are gluten-free are actually high in carbohydrates and calories.
Aside from lowering your risk from unwanted health conditions and increasing your chances of losing weight, this popular diet is also great in helping you improve your digestion. This holds true for people who have the disease and those who are healthy as well. People who have gone on this diet reported less indigestion and better bowel movements. Trying this could also help relieve bloating, cramps and stomach pains.
The Downside of Going without Gluten
While this diet is great for your health, there are some disadvantages to it too. Even if this diet is popular, it is not that simple to prepare meals that do not contain gluten. Not everyone has access to stores that offer foods that are gluten-free. Sometimes, even if they are labelled, some products have ingredients that are actually sources of gluten. You could end up consuming gluten without even knowing it.
Another factor that makes it difficult for people to stick to this diet is that it can be expensive to purchase the food and ingredients for a diet that is free of gluten. This is because the raw ingredients have to go through additional processing to ensure that the end products do not contain any traces of gluten. Cross-contamination is also a problem when preparing your menu. There could be instances wherein the utensils you use come in contact with substances that contain gluten. Basically, going on a diet that is free of gluten requires meticulous and careful preparation.