Gluten-free diet has become more common in recent years. People seek help for stomach problems and weight loss from gluten-free diet. However, many hope that it will also help with other symptoms. Before the gluten-free diet was intended for people with celiac disease, today a lot of people swear by the name of a gluten free diet and speak about gluten sensitivity. Is it just a trend, or is there some truth in it? Is the diet suitable for everyone?
Gluten is the grain protein in all domestic cereal; it plays an important role in the production of bread and baked goods, as it gives the dough the necessary viscosity. In celiac disease the gluten damages the villi of the small intestine, when the absorption of nutrients gets more difficult. Symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhea, fatigue, and general malaise. Allergic reaction from gluten usually occurs very soon after eating something that contains cereal. Symptoms such as mouth itching, hives, vomiting, diarrhea, or in the worst case life-threatening anaphylactic reaction may occur. Gluten sensitivity may cause the same symptoms as severe celiac disease even though it will not damage the mucosa in small intestine. If these symptoms occur from eating cereal, there is only one option: a gluten-free diet.
Gluten-free diet means in practice that all products with rye, barley, wheat or plain oats are left out from the diet. These can partly be replaced with naturally gluten-free cereals such as rice, buckwheat, corn, and millet. There are products available in the market where the gluten has been industrially removed from the cereal. Naturally gluten-free foods are also meats, fish, eggs, nuts, berries, vegetables, fruits, roots, etc.
It seems that gluten sensitivity has become more common in the general population, so it is good to consider the possible reasons. Awareness has increased, research has been made and people are trying to find different ways of treatment to relieve the symptoms. Also, Western (too) good hygiene has been accused. One theory is that the human digestive tract is still the same as it was in the Stone Age, when it is unable to digest the cereals that “recently” appeared on the diet.
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