- Written by Queen Munguti for KenyaKidz
Gluten, a type of protein found in grains, wheat and barley has become one of those food products that people are avoiding in a bid to ‘eat healthy’ despite them not being sensitive to it, however nutrition experts advise against this as they are denying their bodies nutrients that help reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.
“If one decides to go on a gluten-free diet and they are not gluten sensitive, they may start feeling better just because they are eating more healthfully and being more conscious of their food choices. However, throwing out gluten if one does not have an allergy is not typically recommended as you can lose important vitamins, minerals and fiber,” said Bekah Vukovich, a nutrition and dietetics graduate student and consultant for Working Well Nutrition at Ball State.
Indeed, whole grains are rich in vitamins and minerals, like vitamins B and D, iron and fiber that could help prevent the risk of cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.
Therefore gluten-free consumers have a higher risk of type 2 diabetes as researchers have found that eating an extra two servings of whole grains a day decreased the risk of disease by 21 per cent.
“In a study of more than 160,000 women whose health and dietary habits were followed for up to 18 years, those who averaged two to three servings of whole grains a day were 30 per cent less likely to have developed type 2 diabetes than those who rarely ate whole grains,” read a Harvard Health study report.
“When the researchers combined these results with those of several other large studies, they found that eating an extra two servings of whole grains a day decreased the risk of type 2 diabetes by 21 per cent.”
Gluten is found in foods such as breads, baked goods, pasta, cereals, salad dressing, chips, processed cheese, mayonnaise, ketchup malt vinegar, sausage, canned beans, ice cream and hot dogs among others.
However, not all grains contain gluten; sorghum, millet, brown rice, buckwheat, wild rice, amaranth, quinoa, corn (polenta) and oats are some of the gluten-free grains.
People who are gluten-sensitive produce an abnormal immune response when breaking down gluten during digestion. This damages their intestines, preventing them from absorbing vital nutrients causing irritable bowel syndrome.
“Wheat products make a substantial contribution to the dietary intake of many people worldwide. Despite the many beneficial aspects of consuming wheat products, it is also responsible for several diseases such as celiac disease (CD), wheat allergy, and non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS),” read a research on the relation between celiac disease, nonceliac gluten sensitivity and irritable bowel syndrome published in the Nutional Journal, BioMed Central.
Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition, whereby eating food containing gluten causes damage to the lining of the gut. Its symptoms include; chronic diarrhea, nausea, stomach pain, swelling in the abdomen and gas bloating.