Facts about the benefits of the gluten-free diet

By Shivani Sikri

Many people claim to feel better by stopping gluten, even though they don’t have celiac disease. Is this diet really effective on diabetes and inflammatory bowel disease? Does it improve joint disorders and cognitive abilities? Does it really help to lose weight? Gluten not welcome? No, clearly, for some of the people who have decided to oust it from their plate. What do they blame him for? It cause bloating, spasms and transit disorders, but also headaches, fatigue, itching, joint pain.

Outlined initially in 1978, the Doctors define Non-celiac gluten sensitivity as a biological condition in which the ingestion of gluten leads to digestive symptoms which subside under a diet that is gluten-free.

Is a gluten-free diet more digestible?
It’s possible. “Gluten is rich in proline. It is a protein that makes them less accessible to enzymes in the digestive tract’’. As a result, the digestion of gluten leaves small fragments. These fragments can be identified by the immune system and outsets their unhappy symptoms.

In the absence of characteristic markers as in celiac disease or wheat allergy, only the exclusion of gluten can determine whether digestive difficulties are related to its ingestion. And again: not for sure.

When we remove foods containing gluten, we also remove other substances such as FODMAPs, in particular fructans, which are also likely to cause intestinal fermentation and inflammation of the digestive tract. Hence it is usually difficult to identify the culprits and gluten is not the only culprit.

Does it reduce inflammatory bowel disease?
No, with the exception of celiac disease. It is only in celiac patients that the ingestion of gluten provokes an inflammatory reaction, easily detectable by blood markers. This damages the intestinal wall and destroys the villi.

When it comes to other inflammatory bowel disease or irritable bowel syndrome , gluten isn’t the culprit and doesn’t make the inflammation worse. On the other hand, one can think that its eviction makes it possible to alleviate the symptoms, insofar as it is badly digested by some.

There are studies that recommends adopting a gluten-free diet during flare-ups. Thus, people suffering from inflammatory digestive diseases say they feel better without gluten.

Are joint or rheumatic disorders improved?
Yes, in some. Again, no cause and effect, no strong evidence, but testimonials. It is assumed that gluten could increase the inflammatory state in these patients by increasing intestinal permeability.

Does it have an impact on diabetes?
Not at all, or indirectly. It is only in celiac disease that there exists a link between type 1 diabetes and Gluten. Celiac and Type 1 diabetes are autoimmune diseases. On the other hand, it mainly depends on the food hygiene and eating habits adopted, that a gluten-free diet can have on type 2 diabetes.

If you are thinking to replace gluten or wheat and its various forms with market products like gluten-free bread, biscuits, pasta etc, then the consequence will be sooner damaging since these products are usually complimented with sugar and fats and the flours that have a high glycemic index.

Does it help you lose weight on scales?
Sometimes. It all depends, again, on what the gluten-free diet is made of. If, by removing meals that contain it, we lessen our intake of industrial products, thereby leading to lower calorie intake.

Alternatively, we do not switch our way of eating and we are only swapping gluten-free products for gluten-free products, the result could on the negative side. Gluten in itself does not make you fat or lose weight, the quantities and its form do

Are we in better shape, less tired?
Maybe. But this effect is then indirect. When you change your diet, when you are persuaded to do yourself good, this can generate a certain dynamism. Moreover, the easier digestion is, the lighter and fitter you feel.

Does allergy get reduced?
No. Gluten usually does not cause allergic reactions. The only exception of celiac disease or wheat allergy wherein the consumption of gluten initiates an unsuitable reaction of the body’s immune defenses.

Does everyone have to quit gluten?
Not really. Today, many foods are available in a gluten-free version. Some people who are not intolerant decide to remove it from their diet. But that’s not purely a good idea.

There is a non-celiac gluten sensitivity that manifests itself by digestive and extra-digestive symptoms which arise after having ingested it, and disappear when it is ousted. But there is no objective criterion for establishing a diagnosis.

Unlike celiac disease and wheat allergy, this sensitivity is not serious. Excluding gluten improves the discomfort felt, but it is possible for these people to consume it without consequences for their health.

(The author is Chief Nutritionist & Wellness Expert at Nutri4Verve. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of FinancialExpress.com.)

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