Nearly every grocery store you walk into has a gluten free isle. You see gluten free labels on every other product. This is a very poorly explained concept in my view.
What is gluten?
This is a component of wheat, that’s also found in rye and barley. Gliadin is one of the two protein components of gluten. In apx 0.5to 6% of the population, gliadin presence in the cells lining the gut can spark an immune reaction causing the immune system of one’s body to attack cells harboring it. This in turn results in the destruction of cells in your gut leading to absorption problems. This will play out in the form of indigestion, abdominal discomfort, bloating and foul smelling stool. This illness is known as ‘Celiac disease’. Some refer to this simply as gluten sensitivity. Research as shown that there’s a genetic predisposition among individuals who suffer from this condition. For such individuals, a gluten free diet is curative. For the rest of us that do not have this reaction to gluten, it simply should NOT matter whether we eat gluten containing foods or not.
Gluten-free nutritional deficiency
It’s important to realize that gluten-free foods may not have the same level of nutrition and may in-fact be lacking specifically in dietary fibre, compared to gluten containing grains. More research has shown that adolescents are at an even bigger nutritional disadvantage when they consume gluten-free food. Newer technology in the gluten free diet is allowing for incorporation of dietary enrichment of gluten-free food. Inulin is one of the substances mentioned as an enrichment. Considered a fibre, it’s a non digestible polysaccharide.
Lamacchia C, Camarca A, Picascia S, Di Luccia A, Gianfrani C (Jan 29, 2014). “Cereal-based gluten-free food: how to reconcile nutritional and technological properties of wheat proteins with safety for celiac disease patients”. Nutrients 6 (2): 575–90. doi:10.3390/nu6020575. PMC 3942718.PMID 24481131.