* This is an updated version of the original post that was published in September 2015.
Not long ago, I was offered a very interesting infographic about gluten-free eating, so I decided to republished this post with some modifications and the new infographic. Hope you’ll like it!
Is gluten really bad for us?
We hear about celiac disease everywhere, so much so that a lot of people are starting to think that gluten is bad for their health. But is living a gluten-free life a good idea? Should we all ban gluten from our lives?
Actually, gluten isn’t bad for us, some even say that banning gluten from our diet can lead to major nutritional deficiencies.
But celiac disease is a real condition that affects an estimated 1 in 100 people in North America and Europe. So for those people, gluten is really bad.
What is celiac disease
About 1.8 million Americans suffer from celiac disease, and over 1.4 don’t even know they have it. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIH), celiac disease definition is:
«Celiac disease is an immune disorder in which people cannot tolerate gluten because it damages the inner lining of their small intestine and prevents it from absorbing nutrients.»
The small intestine is the tube-shaped organ located between the stomach and the large intestine (colon).
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, spelt and some kinds of oats. You can also find gluten is MSG, makeup, and preservatives.
More specifically, the main agent that is responsible for the reaction is called gliadin that is a class of protein that is a component of gluten. This is what triggers the immune response and prevents the absorption of the nutrients.
Normally, the immune system protects the body against infections. But when people with celiac disease eat food containing gluten, the immune system reacts badly and destroys the villi (finger-like tentacles) lining the small intestine.
This damage is called villous atrophy and can cause malnutrition and serious illness like osteoporosis.
What causes celiac disease
Although this illness has been widely researched. Nobody knows where it comes from. Some researchers claim that it’s hereditary. For 50% of people with celiac disease, at least one family member has the disease.
For some people, nothing happens when they eat gluten, but for others, the disease is activated when they eat foods with gluten in it.
A surgical procedure, pregnancy, childbirth, viral infections, or severe emotional stress can trigger celiac disease.
Aside from a gluten-free diet
Aside from banning gluten from your diet, additional supplements can help with controlling the symptoms. Here they are:
- High energy multivitamins
- Essential fatty acids like borage seed, flaxseed, and fish oil
- Digestive enzymes that contain prebiotics
All those supplements will help rebuild intestinal cells, they will help regulate the immune system, so there will be less inflammation.
What are the signs and symptoms of celiac disease
According to some experts, there are over 300 possible symptoms related to celiac disease. This condition affects each person differently.
Click here to have to complete list, but below are the most common symptoms:
- Edema bucket (swollen ankles)
- Vitamin K deficiency
- Excessive bruising and bleeding
The difference between gluten sensitivity and celiac disease
Celiac disease and gluten intolerance (also known as non-celiac gluten sensitivity) are a lot similar. The big difference is in their reaction to the gluten protein.
Since their symptoms are nearly identical, the only way to know for sure which one you suffer from is by submitting yourself to medical tests.
Although your immune system is involved in both conditions, it’s the way your immune system reacts to gluten ingestion.
In celiac disease, your immune system reacts by attacking your own tissue. In gluten sensitivity, your immune system attacks the gluten directly.
The Ultimate Guide To Gluten-Free Eating
I found this infographic below, created by Fortunate Kitchen, that explains what is a gluten-free diet and contains a lot of useful information.
In the infographic, you’ll find answers to your questions about celiac disease, gluten allergy, and a gluten-free diet. You’ll learn:
- What is gluten
- Allergic gluten (in adults and in children)
- Gluten affect on body
- Gluten free diet
- Recovery when eliminating gluten-food on food
Click on infographic to enlarge
Over to you
Living with celiac disease, gluten allergy or gluten sensitivity can be very difficult, and it requires a lot of discipline from the person affected by it.
Following a gluten-free diet can be very expensive and isn’t as convenient as a normal diet. You have to give up some of the foods you like and completely rearrange your eating habits.
Personally, I know one person who suffers from a gluten allergy. Do you know someone who suffers from one of those illnesses? And if yes, how do they deal with it? Please, share your thoughts with us in the comment box below!