What is Gluten?

The past few years has been a health overhaul for America. We’ve come to terms with what we’ve been doing wrong, and many of us strive to live better healthier lives. With this health renaissance, came the gluten-free extravaganza. Which for some people (like yours truly) was a godsend, more companies making gluten-free alternatives, and for others, they saw another health “fad” that they decided to run with. Much to the annoyance of those with Celiac disease and other autoimmune diseases (yours truly, again). The fad runners having no idea what gluten actually was, set off on the gluten-free adventure, claiming better health and lower weight. Which some did obtain (much aggrieved again) but not for the reasons they thought. But lets first define what gluten actually is, and why we should be free of it in the first place.

Gluten is a protein, actually, it is a bond of two proteins, gliadin, and glutenin. These proteins make up the doughy texture that is found in wheat and grain products. So what do these proteins do? Well, for those with the curse of celiac, or that have autoimmune diseases (which often come with gluten intolerance) it makes us sick. There are certainly different reactions depending on the individual, but what gluten does is mostly the same. The small intestine has a lining of villi, which look like fibers or fingers. When gluten touches them, they swell shut with the allergic reaction, inflaming the intestine and cutting off nutrient absorption. This leads to diarrhea, bloating, nausea, and other symptoms. (Itchy eyes and a tongue feeling of carpet for yours truly).

So what does gluten do to those that don’t have celiac or intolerance? Well, they affect the elasticity of dough. That’s it. Gluten has no adverse effect on those that have neither celiac or intolerance. So why are people feeling better and losing weight anyway? Well, the culture. Someone that decides to go gluten-free (that hasn’t been told to do so by a doctor) is in a mindset to be more healthy. And it just so happens most gluten-free food is available in the widest variations in health food stores or the health food section. Healthy choice begets a healthy choice. They are now surrounded by healthier alternatives, and most products that are gluten free are made with healthier, often organic, ingredients. Now you can make an informed decision on whether or not to go gluten-free. Or just impress the numerous amount of people who don’t know what it is with your new found knowledge.

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