“Persona non grata”: what is gluten and is it worth refusing products with it


Bread in Russia was not only a tasty additive to food, it was an independent full-fledged dish. And all thanks to the wonderful properties of gluten, making it fluffy and soft. Gluten or in a modern way gluten (Gluten franz. - gluten) is a vegetable protein that has become today for many people persona non grata. Why did such a substance fall into disgrace and is it so harmful to completely exclude it from the diet?

What it is: gluten from the point of view of food chemistry

Gluten is a protein of plant origin. It was first isolated at the beginning of the 18th century by the Italian scientist - physicist and physician - Jacopo Bartolomeo Beccari. Gluten is found in cereals - wheat, rye, oats, barley. The total protein content in wheat grain is 11.4%, while the share of gluten is 8.4%.

Gluten - a plant protein found in cereals

Gluten consists of two types of protein - prolamins and glutenins (glutamines). Wheat prolamin is called gliadin. Gliadin and glutamine are composed of amino acids, and both contain large amounts of glutamic acid. It refers to replaceable amino acids, that is, those that are produced in the human body.

Gluten washed from dough is a gel-like mass of gray. In dry form, these are transparent crystals. Gluten is not soluble in water, but forms interconnected fibers.

Gluten is indispensable when baking bread. Due to its stabilizing properties, it is widely used in almost all sectors of the processing industry. Gluten is used in pharmaceuticals and in the manufacture of cosmetics.

What is the harm

A harmful component of gluten is gliadin. His intolerance has an autoimmune nature. Once in the body, gluten is exposed to the enzyme - tissue transglutaminase secreted by the cells of the small intestinal mucosa. Gluten is broken down by the enzyme into glutenin and gliadin. Gliadin is perceived by the immune system as a foreign agent - it produces antibodies to it.

Moreover, immune cells attack not only the "alien", but also their own tissues that produce the enzyme. Gradually, the surface of the intestinal mucosa becomes “bare” (the glandular fibers die off) and the body loses a natural filter that prevents toxins from entering the blood.

At the same time, due to a decrease in the suction area, the supply of essential minerals and vitamins is reduced. A disease in which the body does not tolerate gluten is called celiac disease or gluten-sensitive enteropathy.

This is a genetic disease. It is not acquired, but only congenital and usually manifests itself in childhood.

Signs of celiac disease

Celiac disease is primarily expressed in gastrointestinal disorders and is manifested by the following symptoms:

  • weight loss with good nutrition;
  • migraine;
  • flatulence;
  • diarrhea or constipation;
  • abdominal pain;
  • poor appetite.

One of the diagnostic markers is the increased fat content in the feces.

The effects of gluten intolerance

Celiac disease may be asymptomatic, and subsequently develop into severe conditions:

  • iron deficiency anemia;
  • osteoporosis;
  • chronic fatigue syndrome;
  • deterioration of brain activity;
  • damage to the cardiovascular system;
  • joint and muscle pain.

These conditions accompany other diseases, therefore differential diagnosis is necessary. In addition, medicine is associated with celiac disease and other autoimmune diseases - insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, rheumatoid arthritis, thyroiditis, and some other pathologies.

Allergy to gluten

It is necessary to distinguish gluten intolerance (celiac disease) and an allergic reaction to it. Allergy symptoms are similar to signs of celiac disease, but they do not cause systemic changes in the body. With the termination of the allergen they pass and have no far-reaching consequences.

The fact that it is an allergy is also evidenced by its typical symptoms - skin rash and itching, nasal congestion. Swelling of the pharynx and tongue is possible, as well as profuse tearing. They manifest immediately after ingestion of gluten in the body or within a few hours thereafter.

High amounts of gluten cause digestive problems.

Excessive gluten-containing products in the menu can provoke:

  • inflammatory processes;
  • liver disease;
  • acne;
  • digestive problems.

Considering that the amount of modern gluten-free food is limited, a balanced approach should be taken to drawing up a daily diet.

What parents need to know about children's nutrition

Starting feeding the child up to a year, products containing gluten (bread, cereals) should be introduced gradually. The following symptoms will tell about the presence of intolerance to vegetable protein:

  • the child does not gain weight, despite adequate nutrition;
  • he is tormented by increased gas formation;
  • he often belches plentifully;
  • the stool becomes frequent and fluid;
  • the child does not sleep well and his mood and behavior change dramatically.

The first signs of gluten intolerance do not appear immediately, but after 10 - 14 days from the start of complementary feeding. Similar symptoms are observed in infants who are bottle-fed if they are given mixtures containing wheat or oatmeal.

A child with signs of celiac disease requires a medical examination.

If a similar reaction is found in a child, it is necessary to exclude products containing gluten from its diet and to be examined for an accurate diagnosis.

If you let the disease spontaneously, the child will begin to lag behind in mental and physical development, as his body does not receive the necessary vitamins and minerals.

Is there any benefit in gluten

The benefits are certainly there, but only for healthy people. The amount of vitamins A, E, PP, group B in gluten is insignificant, but some minerals are contained in amounts up to one third and even half of the daily norm (per 100 g of the product). These are iron, phosphorus, calcium, copper and selenium. It also has a small amount of potassium, magnesium and zinc.

The fashionable diet of Pierre Ducan now allows the inclusion of gluten-free products in the menu. Moreover, in some cases, he suggests replacing the flour with bran, and when baking bread, use gluten to make it soft. A French doctor calls gluten "vegetable meat" and recommends it in a vegetarian and vegan diet.

Gluten is beneficial only if it is used in moderation. The daily rate for a healthy person who does not have an allergy to gluten is from 5 to 20 g.

Eating foods rich in gluten is recommended for people who are experiencing great physical exertion. It contains 18 amino acids and carbohydrates. Gluten has a positive effect on immunity, improves blood quality and strengthens bone tissue.

Where is gluten contained

In the second half of the 20th century, after the discovery of the properties of gluten as a food stabilizer, it began to be produced in large quantities.

Products with gluten content form the basis of the diet of most people who eat and run fast food.

The list of products with its content includes almost everything that is on everyone’s table today.

Table: products with and without gluten

Products containing substanceWhat can replace
All products from wheat, barley, oats, rye:
  • bread and pastries;
  • porridges;
  • flour;
  • oatmeal, rolled oats;
  • pasta;
  • breadcrumbs
Fresh fruits and vegetables
Meat products:
  • sausages;
  • sausages and wieners;
  • cutlets and meatballs;
  • smoked and other processed meat delicacies
Fresh meat, poultry and fish
Soy and products from itUnprocessed Dairy Products
Ready-made sauces, dressings and seasonings (ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard and others)Raw Sunflower Seeds and Nuts
Concentrated broths in cubes and powdersBeans, beans, peas, lentils
Semi-finished products (ready-made main dishes, vegetable side dishes and soups)Rice and Tapioca Flour
Any canned food (meat and fish)Cereals:
  • rice
  • corn;
  • pshenka;
  • buckwheat
Breakfast cerealsFresh Chicken Eggs
Chips and FriesPotato starch
Crab sticksButter and vegetable oil
Milk products:
  • cheeses;
  • curd cheese;
  • yogutras;
  • condensed milk;
  • cottage cheese in packs;
  • infant formula
The drinks:
  • all strong alcohol;
  • beer;
  • Coca-Cola and Pepsi;
  • cocoa;
  • instant coffee;
  • tea granules;
  • carbonated soft drinks

Obviously, a completely healthy diet can be made from gluten-free foods. Only it will cost significantly more than the processed products.

Baby food

From the diet of children with celiac disease and an allergy to gluten, products containing it should be completely excluded. Choosing milk formula you need to pay attention to the composition and labeling. Gluten-free products are indicated with crossed wheat spikelets. Today, you can find gluten-free baby food on store shelves, for example:

  • from Heinz - rice porridge with apple and vegetable puree;
  • from Nestle - rice porridge;
  • from Humana - cereals with fruit additives;
  • from Hipp - mashed vegetables and rice with turkey.

Gluten-free baby food 6 examples in photo

The list can be continued, the choice of baby food today is quite extensive. Before choosing food for children, you need to consult a pediatrician. Especially when it comes to breastfed babies.

Gluten free life

In Western countries, the transition to gluten-free products is a fashionable trend on which food corporations make huge money. The current market for gluten-free products is estimated at more than $ 15 billion. Keep up with manufacturers and restaurateurs offering special gluten-free menus, in high demand.

This icon marks products that do not contain gluten.

Gluten free diet

People suffering from celiac disease are doomed to a lifelong gluten-free diet. But does it make sense to follow a similar diet to healthy people? It is believed that it helps to get rid of extra pounds. In fact, a paradoxical situation is created.

People lose weight not from the lack of gluten, but because they stop using flour and sweet dishes.

On the other hand, gluten-free foods contain more fat and calories. In addition, such a diet delivers psychological discomfort, as well as any dietary restriction.

Learn more about the gluten diet: //

Video: Professor Ishevsky about dangerous and healthy products with him

How justified is the hype around gluten-containing food

Another “trick” of the day is gluten-free cosmetics. In it, gluten is used as a binding component and can in no way enter the body, and even more so into the intestine through the skin. The myth about the dangers of conventional cosmetics for people suffering from celiac disease is nothing more than a marketing ploy designed to increase sales of more expensive products.

The same applies to products. If a person has eaten bread, macaroni, porridge or sausage all his life and did not experience any particular discomfort, then why should he refuse from the usual food? Panicking and giving in to provocative attacks on gluten is not worth healthy people.

Eating or not eating foods that contain gluten is an individual choice. And if there is suspicion of allergies, it is better to be examined. Today, there are a number of tests and diagnostic procedures that allow you to make an accurate diagnosis.