What Exactly Is Gluten?
Gluten is a collective name for proteins found in wheat and its derivatives as well as in rye and a few other grains. It can also show up in foods that do not include any grains due to contamination in a kitchen. Gluten works as a kind of glue to help foods hold their shape. It provides the elasticity seen in pasta and allows bread to rise.
Who Needs To Be Concerned About Gluten?
The people who need to avoid gluten include people who have an autoimmune condition called celiac disease. Celiac disease makes it difficult to digest gluten and affects about one percent of the population. People with the condition have difficulty absorbing the nutrients in their food. The symptoms of celiac disease include bloating and fatigue.
Recently, another condition called non-celiac gluten sensitivity has been making the headlines. Relatively little is known about this condition except that people with it do feel better when they stop eating foods that contain gluten. It has contributed to the popularity of the many gluten-free food products on the market. Not much is known about non-celiac gluten sensitivity. How much gluten is needed to cause its symptoms is still unknown and no one is certain that it is even related to gluten consumption. In addition, no one knows how many people have the condition though some experts estimate that as much as six percent of the population could be affected. While celiac disease appears to be hereditary, non-celiac gluten sensitivity does not appear to be connected to genetics at all. The conditions do share many of the same symptoms such as bloating and fatigue.
Are There Benefits To A Gluten-free Diet?
For people who have celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, yes. For everyone else, the answer is no. Eating foods without gluten provides no health benefits and is just a waste of money, especially since gluten-free foods are often more expensive.
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