What is Gluten?
Gluten is a complex protein found in grains such as wheat, barley, and rye. It is responsible for the elasticity and structure of baked goods, as it helps the dough rise and maintain its shape during fermentation. Gluten is primarily composed of two proteins: gliadin and glutenin.
Gluten intolerance and celiac disease
Some individuals have an intolerance or sensitivity to gluten, while others suffer from an autoimmune disease called celiac disease. Both conditions involve a negative reaction of the digestive system to gluten, but they differ in severity and mechanisms of action.
People with gluten intolerance, also known as non-celiac gluten sensitivity, experience gastrointestinal symptoms after consuming gluten, although there is no immune response involved. These symptoms may include abdominal pain, diarrhea, bloating, and general discomfort. Although more research is needed to fully understand gluten intolerance, it is believed that other components of wheat or food fermentation may trigger these symptoms.
Celiac disease is a chronic autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the cells lining the small intestine in response to gluten. This causes inflammation and damage to the intestinal mucosa, impairing proper nutrient absorption. Symptoms can vary widely and may include chronic diarrhea, weight loss, fatigue, anemia, irritability, skin rashes, and neurological issues. If left untreated, celiac disease can lead to long-term complications such as malnutrition, osteoporosis, infertility, and an increased risk of certain types of cancer.
Article by Paula Pietras