In the labyrinth of diets and possible food choices, the questions I will try to answer later are: is a gluten-free diet really so healthy for everyone ? Do gluten-free foods harm non-celiacs ?
It is not always easy to immediately recognize the symptoms of celiac disease because it is very easy to confuse it with the most common inflammations of the intestine, especially if you are very stressed and do not eat well. The answer to every problem then becomes ‘irritable colon’.
All right until the most important symptoms arrive : exaggerated weight loss, intestinal malabsorption, anemia, nutrient deficiency, too frequent diarrhea events that leave little room for imagination. The antibodies to the stars and the atrophy of the intestinal villi are the further confirmation that something has gone wrong in your gut: it is really celiac disease.
It was not easy for my father to accept this new condition that led him to completely change his eating habits , but with a little ‘good will and the support of those around you finally comes to acceptance of the disease, especially when one sees one’s health improve from one day to another. Even the physique, however, changes and undergoes such modifications that require healthier and more conscious food choices as the increase in body weight following a gluten-free diet usually takes place in a short time. But, if this is a good sign of recovery, it is also an alarm bell that tells us that the power must adjust the shot for a moment.
Today, the gluten-free diet has become a real fashion because gluten is considered a harmful substance for our health . But to date, we who live closely the problem and all the celiacs, we wonder why anyone who has no problems of any kind still prefer to give up a normal diet, healthy and balanced when there are people forced to deal with foods that are not always so tasty but that above all change the body and metabolism.
Before trying to answer, here are some things to know about celiac disease, in pocket nius.
What is celiac disease and what are the symptoms
Before talking about gluten-free foods, it is right to open a parenthesis on celiac disease and on what is its most common symptomatology.
The celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder triggered by real gluten proteins, gliadin and glutenin . In predisposed subjects, gliadin in particular triggers an exaggerated response of the T lymphocytes of the intestinal mucosa that stimulate the production of inflammatory molecules. These molecules attack the intestine causing a hyperplasia of intestinal crypts and a flattening of the vile, situations that become increasingly serious if you continue to introduce gluten with the diet.
What we have talked about is the cell-mediated response but it is not the only one. In fact, it is associated with the humoral response because, following the introduction of gluten, the specific gluten B lymphocytes are also activated, which produce antibodies against antigliadine, antitransglutaminase and antiendomysium which continue to aggravate the symptoms.
The most common symptoms of celiac diseaseare intestinal malabsorption following numerous diarrheal events that prevent nutrient absorption, exaggerated weight loss, frequent abdominal pain. These are the most classic symptoms that tell us that something in the body is not working in the right way, but then there are symptoms that are a little less obvious that often are not associated with celiac disease. In fact, many celiac sufferers have dermatitis herpetiformis, drowsiness and asthenia, while in celiac children very slow growth, tooth changes with tooth enamel reduction and chronic stomach ache also occur very often. Once the symptoms have been recognized, the diagnosis must be made by performing the appropriate antibody tests (anti-trypsin antibodies,
A diagnosis made the only possible therapy to lower the levels of antibodies and protect the organism of a celiac subject from further damage, restoring a normal condition, is the gluten free diet with gluten-free foods .
Because today’s gluten-free diet is so fashionable
A rather curious aspect is that concerning the spread like glaze of the gluten-free diet a bit ‘everywhere as if it were a real fashion to which we all should join.
One of the reasons why this new food style is becoming more and more popular is the diagnosis of celiac sufferers that every year increases more and more in every part of the world .
The answer that is most often given is that gluten hurts and that the celiac disease has unleashed precisely because it uses genetically modified or otherwise unhealthy grain, as it used to be and that it would therefore be necessary to eliminate it from one’s diet in order not to have problems. First of all, it is important to underline the scientific groundlessness of these observations because the celiac disease in the past was not known and the means for its diagnosis were not as well known .
Today, medicine has taken giant steps to discover the disease and to predict it genetically. In fact, celiac disease is linked to the HLA gene, whose transmission has a very high percentage of familiarity. It is very easy, in fact, that the children of celiacs have this gene and that they manifest the disease in the future. If the gene is not present a subject will never become celiac despite prolonged exposure to food containing gluten . Despite this, a good portion of the population prefers to consume gluten-free foods gluten that are erroneously considered ‘healthier’ but rich in sugars, fats, proteins and other additives.
Are you really sure then about the healthiness of gluten-free foods?
Eating gluten-free is not actually the healthiest choice ever, as many think .
Because gluten-free foods are bad for non-celiacs
- Gluten-free foods are more caloric
Usually gluten-free foods have a higher caloric intake compared to traditional ones. It should be considered that this is not the fault of the industries that produce food for celiacs but a necessity. In fact, the gluten of which we speak so much is not a pre-existing protein complex but is formed as a result of the addition of water to the flour used for kneading and the composition of the flours, which have a different percentage of gliadins and glutenins depending on their type, influences the consistency of the dough. In any case, kneading bread , pasta or pizza as we know it is possible precisely because it is gluten that makes the dough elastic!
And then, where gluten is not kneading a bakery product requires the use of additional means . To make things easier, add thickeners and, since the gluten, holding back water and air, is also responsible for the taste of the baked goods, there are other sugars and sweeteners to make gluten-free products more palatable.
- Gluten-free foods are often lacking in nutritional terms
The cereals that are eliminated from the diet if you are celiac are those most rich in nutritional. In particular, the cereals are rich in B vitamins, iron, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, folates and fibers . We are talking about wheat, barley, oats and all other prohibited cereals that can be viewed in the handbook made available by AIC (Italian Celiac Association). Eating gluten-free therefore predisposes to a series of important nutritional deficiencies that must be properly kept under control and integrated. People with celiac disease know that they have to undergo periodic examinations that allow them to understand if nutrient malabsorption has improved and what they need to integrate.
- The gluten-free diet predisposes to type 2 diabetes
The most worrying fact is that gluten-free foods, precisely because added sugar and fat to make them more palatable, have a very high glycemic index . Among other things, since gluten-free pasta is often not very tasty, many celiacs prefer to consume rice more often. Rice has a very high glycemic index! Therefore gluten-free nutrition predisposes more to the appearance of type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is characterized by a normal production of insulin but by the inability of cells to use it as they should. There is talk of insulin resistance and numerous studies showas incorrect eating habits represented by the consumption of excessively sugary and high fat foods, excessive body weight, sedentariness and genetic components favor the onset of this pathology. It has been demonstrated, among other things, that foods such as bread, pasta and gluten-free bakery products, where they do not differ so much from traditional foods in terms of caloric needs, however, have a double fat concentration compared to traditional foods, contain less protein to which additives and sweeteners are added to amplify the consistency and flavor.
- Gluten-free foods make it difficult to control body weight
Regardless of caloric needs, gluten-free foods make it difficult to keep your weight and metabolism under control . In fact, gluten is responsible for the consistency of foods precisely because it manages to retain water and air in its meshes. In this way gluten-containing foods are very satisfying and this is a fundamental aspect of body weight control. Those who need to lose a few pounds must reduce as much as possible out of the meal and eat less during the day. A good plate of pasta at lunch is enough to reduce the sense of hunger. Gluten-free foods are much less satisfyingso it is a legend that describes slimming foods gluten free. The high glycemic index and the low satiating power induce a sense of hunger and eat more during the day.
So eating gluten-free foods is not as healthy as you often think.
Who is celiac must necessarily undergo a gluten-free diet because it is his health . A big problem is when celiac disease is diagnosed at a young age and children are forced to follow a gluten-free diet for life. The risk of developing obesity and diabetes in children is much higher because of the increased exposure to foods of this type.
Food companies are continually required to produce healthier foods , with alternative and more nutritious flours that make gluten-free products similar to traditional ones without exaggerating in additions of various types.
For example, products made with amaranth and buckwheat flour arevery good . Nutritive is also Teff flour rich in vitamins, fiber and calcium.
A gluten free diet is not recommended for anyone who is not celiac and, among other things, if you even have the suspicion of being celiac, you need to contact an expert before making any move .
Completely eliminating gluten from one’s diet entails, in fact, obtaining false diagnostic results because the first effect of the gluten free diet is the reduction of the antibodies involved in the inflammatory response. The invitation of the scientific community is therefore not to follow food fads that can cause damage to the body but to make informed choices that have the goal of preserving health and well-being .